There are two different classes of criminal offenses in New Jersey. “Indictable crimes” describe more serious offenses like robbery and aggravated assault. Meanwhile, “disorderly persons offenses” refer to lesser offenses that are not considered “crimes.” Disorderly persons offenses are those that may constitute “misdemeanors” in other states.
Disorderly persons offenses are broken down into two subcategories. You can be charged with either a disorderly persons offense or a petty disorderly persons offense, with petty disorderly persons offenses being more akin to what other states call “infractions” or “summary offenses.” Each of type of offense may result in serious penalties including fines and jail time.
If you need help with your criminal case in New Jersey, connect with our experienced New Jersey criminal defense lawyers by calling Law Offices of John J. Zarych at (609) 616-4956.
Classifications for Misdemeanor Offenses in New Jersey
As mentioned, offenses that may be described as misdemeanors in other states are titled “disorderly persons offenses” in New Jersey. These offenses are technically not crimes and are broken down into the following two categories:
Disorderly Persons Offenses
Disorderly persons offenses are the more significant of the two classes of disorderly persons offenses in New Jersey and they are more or less equivalent to what other states call “misdemeanors.” These offenses can be punished with up to six months of jail time and fines totally a maximum of $1,000. Examples of disorderly persons offenses include simple assault, criminal mischief, and resisting arrest.
Petty Disorderly Persons Offenses
On the other hand, petty disorderly offenses describe a less serious class of offense that is not technically a misdemeanor at all. Most other states would call this type of offense an “infraction” or a “summary offense,” and it is more akin to a traffic ticket for non-traffic-related conduct. Those who are charged with petty disorderly persons offenses may spend up to 30 days in jail and may have to pay fines reaching up to $500. Examples of petty disorderly persons offenses include trespassing, disorderly conduct, and harassment.
Other Consequences for Disorderly Persons Offenses in New Jersey
In addition to facing penalties like fines and jail time, there are several other potential consequences of a conviction for a disorderly persons offense. For example, having a conviction for a disorderly persons offense on your record can hurt your chances of getting a job, qualifying for a loan, and acquiring housing. Furthermore, certain disorderly persons offenses may prevent you from holding a position in the U.S. military. Thankfully, if you have been convicted for such an offense, you may be able to have your criminal record sealed from public view.
How to Have a Disorderly Persons Offense Removed from Your Record
If you were convicted for a disorderly persons offense in New Jersey, you may be able to have your criminal record expunged. When your record is expunged, it will be sealed from public view.
However, expungement is only available in certain circumstances. You may only have your record sealed if you have no pending charges and no more than 3 disorderly persons convictions. Additionally, you will be ineligible for expungement if you have been convicted of a felony.
Before applying for expungement, 5 years must have passed since your conviction, payment of fines, completion of probation, or release from jail. The accepted date is calculated based on which of the aforementioned events happened most recently.
Accordingly, the process for having your disorderly persons offense expunged from your record can be complicated and tiresome. Support and guidance from our experienced Ocean City, NJ criminal defense lawyers can be highly valuable when seeking to have your record sealed from public view.
What is the Statute of Limitations for Disorderly Persons Offenses in New Jersey?
Statutes of limitations set forth time limits for filing certain types of cases. The statute of limitations for disorderly persons offenses in New Jersey is set forth by N.J.S.A. § 2C:1-6. Accordingly, the state will have 1 year from the date you allegedly committed a disorderly persons offense to bring their case against you. After this deadline has passed, you cannot be charged.
What Rights Do You Have When You are Charged with a Disorderly Persons Offense in New Jersey?
The penalties associated with disorderly persons offenses are significantly less severe than those associated with indictable crimes. Defendants who are convicted for disorderly persons offenses may only serve prison sentences of up to six months. Accordingly, many federal constitutional protections that are afforded to defendants being charged with indictable crimes will not be afforded to those charged with disorderly persons offenses.
For example, when you are charged with a disorderly persons offense, you will not have the right to a jury trial. Rather, your case will likely be decided by what is called a “bench trial.” During your bench trial, the judge will make the rulings, hear the evidence, and determine whether you are guilty.
However, it is important to remember that you still have the right to be represented by an attorney when you are charged with a disorderly persons offense. Competent legal representation is crucial to ensure that your interests are protected.
What is the Difference Between Indictable Crimes and Disorderly Persons Offenses in New Jersey?
Indictable crimes are crimes that may be referred to as “felonies” in other states. For example, offenses like murder, sexual assault, and robbery may all constitute indictable crimes. These offenses are more serious than disorderly persons offenses and can carry substantial criminal penalties along with them.
While disorderly persons offenses are broken up into 2 subcategories, there are 4 different degrees of indictable crimes. Fourth degree indictable crimes are the least serious while 1st degree crimes will be met with the most substantial penalties. Still, if you are convicted of a 4th degree indictable crime, you may spend up to 18 months in prison. Accordingly, penalties for indictable crimes are much more significant than the penalties that accompany disorderly persons offenses.
After Being Accused of a Disorderly Persons Offense in New Jersey, Seek Help from Our Attorneys
Get support from our experienced Atlantic City criminal defense lawyers at Law Offices of John J. Zarych by calling (609) 616-4956 for a free assessment of your case.