Disorderly conduct charges may be low-level criminal offenses in New Jersey, but they can still carry severe penalties. If you or your child was charged with disorderly conduct, it is important to understand the charges you are facing and how they might lead to arrest, trial, conviction, and even potential jail time. For a free consolation on your case, contact the Cape May disorderly conduct lawyers at The Law Offices of John J. Zarych.
Our attorneys have combined decades of extensive experience handling common criminal charges like disorderly conduct, as well as more serious offenses. Our attorneys can work to fight the charges against you and seek to have charges dropped or dismissed. For help with your case and to schedule a free, confidential consultation on your charges, call our law offices today at (609) 616-4956.
What Type of Conduct Qualifies as “Disorderly Conduct” in Cape May?
New Jersey’s disorderly conduct statute, N.J.S.A. § 2C:33-2, defines disorderly conduct to include three different classes of conduct. These types of conduct all have the same general penalties and fines.
The first type of disorderly conduct offense is engaging in fighting or violent behavior. This can easily be confused with other crimes like assault, but it is often better for the defendant if this crime is charged as disorderly conduct, instead. First, the charge does not carry as much of a stigma as “assault” if it were to appear on your criminal record. In addition, many assault charges can come with a higher fine than disorderly persons charges.
The second type of disorderly conduct offense covers creating a “hazardous or physically dangerous condition.” This is broadly defined to include many hazards, such as fire, smoke, foul odors, painfully loud noises, or physical dangers. Many of these offenses can involve dangerous activities performed as pranks, such as setting off fireworks or “stink bombs,” or other conduct that is too dangerous or violent for public places.
Both of these types of conduct have a mental state requirement. To qualify as a crime, the defendant must have the intent to cause “inconvenience, annoyance or alarm,” or at least must have recklessly risked these things.
The third type of disorderly conduct offense applies to offensive language. To constitute a crime, the language must be either far too coarse, far too loud, or far too offensive, given the circumstances. The speech must also be made in a public place. This means that the volume and language used at a concert or sporting event might be acceptable under those conditions, but the volume and language used in a library or on the street in a residential neighborhood at nighttime might be inappropriate. If this language offends others or is abusive, you may be charged with disorderly conduct.
Penalties for Disorderly Conduct Charges in Cape May
Disorderly conduct is classified under the lowest level of criminal offense in Cape May. “Disorderly persons offenses,” similar to misdemeanor offenses in other states, are punished by up to $1,000 in fines and jail time up to 6 months. New Jersey law also classifies some crimes as “petty disorderly persons offenses,” lowering the penalties to 6 months in jail and fines up to $500. Disorderly conduct is one of these petty disorderly persons offenses.
In many cases, judges will waive the jail time. Unless your case involved significant violence, disruption, or belligerence, the judge often has no justification to order lengthy jail terms. However, fines may commonly be ordered at the max level. Because of this, it is important to avoid conviction in the first place.
You may be able to avoid conviction if the police do not have enough evidence to hold you responsible for the crime. For instance, mistaken identity or an illegal arrest may hurt the government’s case enough that they cannot prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you committed a crime.
Alternatively, your attorney may be able to negotiate a plea deal that allows you to avoid conviction altogether. Either through an informal agreement or by using New Jersey’s Pretrial Intervention Program, you may be able to agree to attend certain classes, lessons, or rehabilitation in exchange for having the charges dropped. If your disorderly conduct crime occurred because of anger, drug use, or drunkenness, you may be able to participate in anger management classes, drug rehab, or alcohol abuse counseling instead of jail. You may also be asked to complete community service as part of this deal. If you successfully complete the terms of the deal, your charges may be dismissed. This helps you avoid a criminal record, avoid criminal fines, and stay out of jail. Talk to an attorney about your options today.
Cape May, NJ Disorderly Conduct Defense Attorney Offering Free Consultations
If you or your child was charged with disorderly conduct at the Jersey Shore or anywhere in Cape May, talk to our attorneys today. The Law Offices of John J. Zarych’s Cape May disorderly persons defense lawyers represent those accused of minor and serious crimes alike. Our Cape May criminal defense lawyers fight criminal cases and work to have charges dropped and dismissed to keep our clients out of jail. For a free consultation on your charges, contact our law offices today at (609) 616-4956.