Perhaps you were enjoying a night out at an Atlantic City casino when events escalated beyond your control. Or perhaps you were at a gathering of family members and friends when police arrived in response to some type of a complaint. Regardless of the circumstances that spiraled out of control and resulted in you facing a disorderly conduct charge. While the crime is sometimes referred to as a “breach of the peace” or “disturbing the peace”, the charge you face is likely for disorderly conduct.
An experienced criminal defense attorney from the Law Offices of John J. Zarych can assess the charges you face and the facts surrounding your arrest to formulate a defense strategy for you. Our experienced criminal defense lawyers are committed to seeking a just result for all of our clients. We proceed strategically in all criminal matters we take on and will never hesitate to go to trial if such an approach is most likely to result in a favorable verdict or disposition for our client. To schedule a free and confidential initial consultation with an experienced New Jersey criminal defense attorney call (609) 616-4956 or contact us online today.
How is Disorderly Conduct Defined Under NJ Law?
Disorderly conduct is defined in New Jersey’s criminal code. The description of the crime can be located in NJSA 2C:33-2. A person can be charged with engaging in disorderly conduct when he or she engages in certain behaviors while in public. Per the text of the statute an individual is in public when:
“Public” means affecting or likely to affect persons in a place to which the public or a substantial group has access; among the places included are highways, transport facilities, schools, prisons, apartment houses, places of business or amusement, or any neighborhood.
Thus, most places where people gather and live would undoubtedly be considered “in public.” Common locations for disorderly conduct offenses not explicitly listed in the law include:
- Professional sporting events
- College sporting events
- House parties
- Block parties
- Bars and taverns
- Betting parlors
- Retail shops
There are many other locations that are considered “in public” where a disorderly persons offense can arise. The above list simply captures some of the more common locations.
Aside from being in public, the behavior in question must also have the “purpose to cause public inconvenience, annoyance, or alarm” or recklessly endeavor to cause the same. This type of a disorderly conduct crime can be committed in two main ways:
- Violent behavior – Any individual who engages in fighting, threatens to fight, or engages in other behavior characterized as “Violent or tumultuous” can be charged with a crime under this statute.
- Creation of a hazard – If the actor creates a hazardous or dangerous condition serving no legitimate purpose, he or she can be held liable for disorderly conduct.
Technically, one can also run afoul of this statute by using offensive language intended to offend sensibilities while in public. However, charges under this part of the statute are unlikely. Furthermore, if charges were brought they would likely run afoul of the defendant’s First Amendment rights as being an overly broad restriction on speech. If the speech was particularly heinous or shocking, however, there remains a chance that an offense could be charged since it remains on the books.
Is a Disorderly Conduct Charge a Serious Crime Under New Jersey Law?
People who are arrested, charged, and convicted of violating this statute will have a record of this criminal conviction on their permanent record. Furthermore, under New Jersey’s expungement law, the offense will not be expungable for five years. Thus, individuals who are convicted of this offense will have to disclose the conviction on any pre-employment background check or for screening for other purposes. While a disorderly persons conviction may not rise to the same level of consequences of that of a indictable crime, it is still a criminal conviction and carries certain penalties and stigmas. For individuals seeking to get started on their life journey, a criminal conviction of any type can become a major obstacle.
Rely on our Experience When Facing NJ Criminal Charges
The experienced and dedicated criminal defense lawyers of the Law Firm of John J. Zarych can fight to protect you from the consequences of a criminal conviction. To schedule a free and confidential initial consultation with an experienced criminal defense attorney call today. We have offices in Wildwood, Cape May, Northfield and Atlantic City.