Just like many Jersey shore towns, the population of Stone Harbor swells in the summer as tourists and summer residents flock to the island to enjoy the beaches and have a good time. While beach season in Stone Harbor is definitely a fun time, however, it can quickly turn into a nightmare if your behavior gets out of control and you are arrested for disorderly conduct. While this may seem like a minor inconvenience, it is actually a charge that comes with serious long-term consequences if convicted.
At the Law Offices of John J. Zarych, our experienced Stone Harbor, NJ disorderly conduct lawyers have successfully defended many people charged with this crime. We understand that a single mistake should not be allowed to define your entire future, and we will be here from the start of your case to the finish to act as your fearless advocate, answer any questions you may have about the process, and fight to get your charges downgraded or dismissed. Call our firm today at (609) 616-4956 for a free consultation.
Definition of Disorderly Conduct in Stone Harbor, NJ
Disorderly conduct is charge than can be applied to a series of different behaviors, leading some to refer to it as a “catch-all” charge. Generally speaking, there are three different categories of disorderly conduct listed in the statute, which we will detail below. The disorderly conduct can have occurred purposefully, meaning with intent to cause public inconvenience, annoyance or alarm, or recklessly, meaning that you should have been aware that your conduct would cause public inconvenience, annoyance, or alarm. All three categories require that the action occurred in a public place.
The first category of disorderly conduct detailed in the statute is “[engaging] in fighting or threatening, or in violent or tumultuous behavior.” This applies to the disturbance caused by the act of fighting in public, rather than any physical assault that occurred during the fight. If there is a fight where there was no clear instigator or perpetrator, the police may charge all those involved with this crime in lieu of charging one or two people with assault. This section also penalizes using threatening language that could frighten or intimidate people in a public setting.
The second category of behavior classified as disorderly conduct is “creating a hazardous or physically dangerous condition by any act which serves no legitimate purpose of the actor.” Obviously, this is quite a broad and inclusive description. In practicality, it is used charge people, who, whether because of intoxication or general foolishness, cause members of the public fear by putting them in danger, even though no harm actually resulted. Someone who shoots off fireworks in the middle of a bar, for example, could be charged under this section of the statute.
The third and final category of disorderly conduct is the use of offensive language in public “with the purpose to offend the sensibilities of a hearer or in reckless disregard of the probability of so doing.” The statute goes on to note that the language used must be “unreasonably loud and offensively coarse or abusive.” As such, the mere act of using offensive language is not illegal, but if you use it in public to harass or offend someone, such as by cursing out a police officer giving you a parking ticket, this can be penalized under this section of the code.
Penalties for Disorderly Conduct in Stone Harbor, NJ
Disorderly conduct is classified under New Jersey law as what is known as a “petty disorderly persons offense.” This is essentially the equivalent to infractions, such as many traffic crimes, in other states. However, this does not mean that being convicted of disorderly conduct cannot come with some serious consequences. Penalties can include up to 30 days in county jail and up to $1,000 in fines. Furthermore, a conviction on your criminal record can make it much more difficult to get a job, qualify for college financial aid, or get a professional license.
How a Disorderly Conduct Case Works in Stone Harbor, NJ
Sometimes for a petty disorderly persons offense like disorderly conduct, the police will simply issue you a ticket or citation with a court date on it and allow you to go on your way. Other times, however, you will be arrested and held in the local station or at the local jail until your bail hearing can be held. Since New Jersey virtually eliminated the use of cash bail in 2017, the judge will now decide whether you can be released on your own recognizance, released with conditions such as attending drug rehab, or if you must be held until your underlying criminal matter is resolved.
The judge bases this decision on a series of factors, including your ties to the community and the severity of the alleged crime. While it would be uncommon for the judge to hold someone charged with disorderly conduct, it can occur in some cases, especially if you have a criminal history. Our experienced bail hearing attorneys at the Law Offices of John J. Zarych know how to fight for you to be released with as few conditions as possible.
At your arraignment, your lawyer is likely to advise you to enter an initial plea of not guilty while we collect evidence and work to negotiate a deal with the prosecutor. If you have a clean criminal history, we may be able to get the prosecutor to agree to allow you into a pre-trial intervention program. If you complete this program successfully, your charges will be dropped and you will not have a criminal record. If you do not wish to take a deal, we are ready to fight for your innocence at trial. A trial for this offense will occur in the municipal court before a single judge, not a jury.
Call Our Seasoned Stone Harbor, NJ Disorderly Conduct Lawyers Today
Despite its reputation as a “minor” charge, disorderly conduct can come with some serious penalties, including a conviction on your record that could jeopardize your future. At the Law Offices of John J. Zarych, our Stone Harbor, NJ disorderly conduct lawyers have years of experience working to get our clients charges dismissed or downgraded and bring their case to a positive conclusion. Call us today at (609) 616-4956 for a free consultation.