Many people have heard about disorderly conduct charges, likely from television or movies. However, these same people often do not know what specifically constitutes disorderly conduct. Disorderly conduct does not cover one specific type of behavior. Instead, it covers a broader spectrum of behavior that tends to cause public disruptions. Disorderly conduct on its own is a relatively minor charge that rarely comes with any jail time.
While disorderly conduct charges are not usually severe, you still need the assistance of a skilled attorney. Disorderly conduct charges are frequently associated with other, more serious charges. For example, disorderly conduct often involves public fighting, and public fighting often leads to additional, more serious violent crimes. An attorney is necessary to assess your case and effectively fight your charges.
If you have been charged with disorderly conduct, you may be facing fines and jail time. You may also be facing additional criminal charges associated with your disorderly conduct. Our Ocean County disorderly conduct defense lawyers can help. Schedule a free legal consultation with our staff at the Law Offices of John J. Zarych. Call (609) 616-4956 to speak with our legal team today.
What Kind of Behavior is Considered Disorderly Conduct in Ocean County?
In a more general sense, disorderly conduct may be any kind of behavior that causes a significant public disruption or otherwise creates a hazard. However, not all disruptive behavior is considered disorderly conduct. For example, a public argument between two people is not inherently disorderly conduct. However, an argument that escalates to a profane screaming match or fighting may be deemed disorderly conduct and broken up by law enforcement.
According to N.J.S.A. § 2C:33-2, disorderly conduct can be found in several specific circumstances. First, disorderly conduct is often charged in cases of public fighting or violence. A classic example of fighting as disorderly conduct is a barroom brawl that gets out of hand. It should be noted that disorderly conduct charges for fighting are likely to be accompanied by charges for other violent crimes, like assault.
Second, any actions that produce a physically dangerous condition or other hazards will also be considered disorderly conduct. The behavior that produces the hazard must also have no legitimate purpose. So, a publicly dangerous construction project would not fit the definition of disorderly conduct because it serves a legitimate purpose. However, leaving discarded screws and nails in the street because you cannot be bothered to clean them up might be disorderly conduct as the nails and screws create a public hazard and serve no purpose.
Third, offensive language can also lead to disorderly conduct charges. However, charges may only be assessed if the profane language is said with the intent to offend anyone within earshot. This means an argument between two people probably will not result in charges unless it becomes loud enough to disturb and offend people in the area. Call our Ocean County disorderly conduct defense lawyers for help with your charges.
Is Disorderly Conduct a Serious Offense in Ocean County?
All criminal charges are serious and should not be brushed off or disregarded. Ignoring or downplaying your charges can lead to more trouble. Failing to show up to court because you do not think your charges are serious enough may result in a bench warrant for your arrest, even for minor disorderly conduct charges. However, disorderly conduct is usually charged as a petty disorderly persons offense, which is very minor compared to other types of offenses and is not technically a “crime.”
New Jersey does not classify offenses as felonies or misdemeanors like other jurisdictions. Instead, New Jersey imposes “indictable crimes” or just “crimes” for felony-like offenses. Offenses that would otherwise be misdemeanors are “disorderly persons offenses.” Lesser offenses that might be called infractions in other states are “petty disorderly persons offenses.” Disorderly conduct is only a petty disorderly persons offense.
Petty disorderly persons offenses often lead to things like tickets or citations that require you to pay a fine. In many situations where the defendant cooperates, the police do not even make any arrests for petty disorderly persons offenses. However, arrest and even jail time are possibilities.
While disorderly conduct is a minor offense, it is often attached to more serious offenses that come with harsher penalties. This is especially true if your disorderly conduct causes another person some sort of injury or bodily harm. Call our Ocean County disorderly conduct defense lawyers for assistance and guidance.
Penalties for Disorderly Conduct Charges in Ocean County
Petty disorderly persons offenses are often met with citations; however, greater penalties are possible. Typically, a defendant facing disorderly conduct charges will have to pay a fine of up to $500. Still, petty disorderly persons offenses like disorderly conduct can also be punished with jail time. A defendant may face up to 30 days in jail if found guilty of disorderly conduct.
In mild cases, the police will often break up whatever fight or disruption is happening and issue the people involved citations for disorderly conduct. Serious consequences like arrest and jail time become more likely when other criminal charges, like assault related to a fight, are involved. For a disorderly conduct case, jail time is often replaced with an alternative sentencing option, like probation or community service. However, you should take these charges seriously no matter what.
If a defendant is facing only charges for disorderly conduct and no additional charges, they have no right to a jury trial. There are no jury trials for petty disorderly persons offenses because these charges are not considered crimes under the laws of New Jersey. However, a defendant does have the right to an attorney. Our Ocean County disorderly conduct defense attorneys can represent you and fight your charges.
Call Our Ocean County, NJ Disorderly Conduct Defense Lawyers
If you or someone you know is facing charges for disorderly conduct, do not dismiss those charges as insignificant. Your charges must be handled with care. Our Ocean County disorderly conduct attorneys can help. Call (609) 616-4956 to schedule a free, confidential legal consultation with the Law Offices of John J. Zarych.