New Jersey has no specific statute criminalizing public drunkenness, but there are other statutes that make it illegal to cause a disturbance or start a fight when you’re drunk. Many of these crimes are lower-level offenses, carrying penalties similar to a traffic offense. Still, these crimes can stay on your record, where potential employers, colleges, and professional organizations may see these charges. If you or a loved one was charged with a crime related to public intoxication, talk to the Atlantic City disorderly conduct defense lawyers at The Law Offices of John J. Zarych.
Which Offenses Are Charged for Public Drunkenness in New Jersey?
Many states and local governments have public drunkenness crimes, where people acting drunk and disorderly can be ticketed or issued criminal charges. New Jersey has no crime called “public drunkenness,” “drunk in public,” or “public intoxication.” This means it is legal to be drunk while in a public place, but you could still be arrested for other crimes related to public intoxication.
Many people who are drunk in public and cause issues are charged with disorderly conduct or another charge. The following charges could all be used against public intoxication, based on other actions that go along with the drunkenness:
- Disorderly conduct charges for causing a disturbance or using excessively foul language in public;
- Disorderly conduct charges for starting a fight;
- Simple assault charges for attacking someone else;
- Drug possession charges if you have drugs with you;
- Underage drinking charges if you are under 21;
- Driving while intoxicated (DWI) charges for drunk driving; and
- Open container violations for carrying drinks with you.
These are just some examples and do not account for the full list of charges that could come from being drunk. Some of these offenses, especially drug possession, DWI, and assault, can be quite serious charges. These crimes could carry significant jail time, expensive fines, and (in some cases) drivers’ license suspensions.
Disorderly conduct charges are classified as petty disorderly persons offenses, which are the lowest level of offense in NJ. Similar to a traffic offense, these charges usually carry fines with a maximum of $500 but can still lead to jail time. Other offenses like underage drinking are disorderly persons offenses (as opposed to “petty” disorderly offenses). This means a potential of fines up to $1,000 instead of $500. Underage drinking charges also have a minimum fine of $500 and could include a drivers’ license suspension.
Both types of disorderly persons offenses also include the potential of up to 6 months in jail. Though judges may not use these penalties in many cases, there is always a possibility that even these minor charges could put you in jail.
Do Public Drunkenness Crimes Stay on Your Permanent Record in NJ?
Whenever you are arrested for a crime, it becomes part of your criminal record. If the charges proceed and you are convicted or plead guilty to the charges, that conviction will also go on your criminal record. Many refer to this as a “permanent record,” but in many cases, the law is flexible, and charges can be removed.
Even though charges like disorderly conduct are lesser criminal charges, they can still appear on your criminal record. New Jersey’s criminal records contain full-fledged crimes like drug possession or assault, but they also contain a record of disorderly persons charges like underage drinking and traffic crimes like DWI. This means that when a potential employer or college runs a background check, these crimes will appear on your record if their search includes lower-level offenses. If the crime is a traffic offense like DWI or includes a license suspension, the charges or suspensions will also appear on your driving record.
In New Jersey, your criminal record is not always a permanent record. In many cases, you can qualify for expungement in New Jersey. This removes charges and arrests from your record but is only available for low level offenses where all you have served all required jail time, completed community service, and paid off all fines and court fees. Expungement is only available for older offenses after a certain amount of time has passed. If you are considering seeking expungement for an offense, talk to an Atlantic City expungement attorney.
Unfortunately, your driving record cannot be cleared or expunged like a criminal record can. Any license suspensions or traffic offenses will remain part of a permanent driving record. This means that if you are applying for a job that involves driving, your potential employer will likely see your suspensions and traffic offenses.
If you are or your child is in college and has been charged with a DWI or DUI, it is imperative to contact a NJ DUI defense attorney for university students immediately.
Atlantic City Defense Attorneys Handling Public Intoxication Cases and Related Charges
If you or a loved one was charged with disorderly conduct, drinking under 21, drug possession, DWI, or any other crimes related to being drunk in public, talk to an attorney today. While some crimes can be expunged from your record, avoiding a record in the first place is a far better option. The Atlantic City criminal defense lawyers at The Law Offices of John J. Zarych fight to get charges dropped or reduced and help our clients avoid serious penalties and criminal records. For a free consultation on your case, contact our law offices today at (609) 616-4956.