Being charged with disorderly conduct can be a stressful experience, especially if this is the first time you have had a run-in with the law. Many people are charged with disorderly conduct for childhood mistakes or incidents involving alcohol, but these charges can leave a mark on your criminal record.
If you or your child was charged with disorderly conduct in Sea Isle City, talk to an attorney about your case today. You may have options to fight the allegations and work to get your charges dropped or your sentence reduced. You may even be able to avoid conviction altogether. For help from a Sea Isle City disorderly conduct lawyer with decades of experience handling disorderly conduct charges, contact The Law Offices of John J. Zarych today at (609) 616-4956.
What is the Definition of Disorderly Conduct in Sea Isle?
New Jersey’s disorderly conduct law is based on the Model Penal Code’s definition of disorderly conduct. This means that disorderly conduct’s definition in New Jersey is very similar to the definition in other states, especially other states that have adopted the Model Penal Code. If you were visiting the shore from out of state when you were charged with disorderly conduct, the charges you face might not be much different from what you would face at home.
N.J.S.A. § 2C:33-2 defines disorderly conduct three possible ways. If you are caught doing any of these things, you could be charged with disorderly conduct:
- Being involved in a fight,
- Spreading hazards or unsafe conditions for no legitimate reason, or
- Using loud, offensive, abusive language in a public place.
While a fight could also mean facing charges like assault charges, disorderly conduct charges are often more appropriate when the situation involves a more mild altercation or when both parties equally started the fight. Being charged with disorderly conduct also helps keep words like “assault” off your criminal record and makes it more difficult for someone to immediately understand that your charge was related to violence.
Creating hazards could involve things like launching fireworks or “stink bombs,” creating excessive smoke, producing loud noises, or doing other things that could harm others. This is usually considered a catch-all offense and could apply in a wide variety of situations.
The subsection for using offensive language is not intended to apply to protestors or people exercising free speech. Instead, this section might apply to someone who shouts at a worker in a store or restaurant, a police officer issuing a parking ticket, or someone else they had a bad encounter with. Alternatively, if someone is drunk or upset, they may become loud and bother others around them, especially if they are walking through a residential neighborhood at night. These situations might call for disorderly conduct charges.
Penalties for Disorderly Conduct in NJ
Disorderly conduct is a criminal offense, but it is not considered a “crime.” Only serious offenses are classified as “indictable crimes” in New Jersey, with lesser offenses carrying the title of “disorderly persons offense.” Disorderly conduct is one specific example of disorderly persons offenses. Usually, disorderly persons offenses are punished with up to 6 months in jail and fines up to $1,000. However, more minor offenses, like disorderly conduct, are classified as “petty” disorderly conduct offenses instead. These have a reduced maximum fine of $500.
Though disorderly conduct can result in jail time, this is rare. Judges typically only order jail time in cases with violence, seriously dangerous conduct, or repeat offenders. If these charges are your first negative encounter with law enforcement, it is unlikely that a judge will require you to face any jail time. However, they may place you on either formal or informal probation as part of the terms of your penalty.
Because this is a criminal offense, you may face other negative effects of committing a crime. For instance, you may face police officers who will ask you questions and investigate the events, issue you a citation, arrest you, put you in handcuffs, take you to jail, book you, and release you on bail. Some cases may end with a citation rather than an arrest, but you may be required to appear in court either way.
Unlike traffic tickets, you usually cannot simply mail in the fine and be done with disorderly persons charges. However, you may be able to avoid conviction by working with an attorney and discussing your case with the police and prosecutors. NJ’s Pretrial Intervention Program and other, more informal processes may allow you to enter a conditional plea to the offense, then take the time to perform community service or seek treatment. Treatment may involve alcohol abuse treatment, anger management classes, or community service. After completing the terms, your plea will be erased from the record, the charges will be dropped, and you will be able to move on without a conviction. However, you usually only get to use a deal like this once, so if this is not your first offense, you may have a more difficult time.
Free Consultations on Sea Isle City Disorderly Conduct Charges
If you or a loved one was charged with disorderly conduct, talk to an attorney about your case today. The Sea Isle City disorderly conduct lawyers at The Law Offices of John J. Zarych represent those accused of minor and major crimes in South Jersey and at the Jersey Shore. For a free consultation on your case, contact our law offices today at (609) 616-4956.