The term “disorderly conduct” may be one of the most frequently mentioned criminal charges anywhere. We often hear it on television and in movies, but what constitutes disorderly conduct is never fully explained. The term itself is rather vague and could potentially encompass many different criminal or offensive behaviors. However, in reality, disorderly conduct only covers specific behaviors in specific settings.
According to N.J.S.A. § 2C:33-2 of the New Jersey Code of Criminal Justice, disorderly conduct covers improper behavior and offensive language. The key element of disorderly conduct is that the behavior or language occurs in a public setting. The behavior or language must also be offensive and inappropriate to the extent that it causes some sort of public disruption. The offense is relatively minor and is only a petty disorderly persons offense.
If you have been charged with disorderly conduct in Atlantic County, New Jersey, you should speak to an attorney about your situation. Your charges, though minor, will still appear on your criminal record. Our Atlantic City disorderly conduct defense attorneys can help you clear your name. Call the Law Offices of John J. Zarych at (609) 616-4956.
Disorderly Conduct Charges in Atlantic County, New Jersey
Disorderly conduct can be applied to two broad categories of offenses. Improper behavior and offensive language may both lead to disorderly conduct charges. While improper behavior or harsh words are not necessarily criminal actions on their own, they can lead to disorderly conduct charges when they happen in a public space. Generally, the actions involved must not only be improper or offensive, but also cause a disruption.
According to New Jersey law, improper behavior that may lead to disorderly conduct charges usually involves one of two kinds of behaviors. First, a defendant may be charged for fighting or acting in a violent manner. Second, a defendant may be charged for creating dangerous conditions that do not serve any legitimate purpose. Again, these things must happen publicly for criminal charges to apply.
Disorderly conduct can also involve offensive language. Even when the language is extremely rude or inflammatory, swearing and name-calling is not usually a criminal offense when said in private conversations. However, when these words are said in public with the intent to offend anyone within earshot, or a reckless disregard for the people within earshot, the speaker could be charged with disorderly conduct.
If you have been charged with disorderly conduct in New Jersey, call our Avalon disorderly conduct defense lawyers for help. We can challenge the charges against you or work to expunge your record if you have already been convicted.
Penalties for Disorderly Conduct in Atlantic County, New Jersey
Charges for disorderly conduct are usually considered petty disorderly persons offenses. These are similar to what might be called minor infractions in other jurisdictions. These kinds of offenses are usually punishable by no more than 30 days in jail and some fines. Due to the less serious nature of these charges, a court may be more willing to impose alternative sentencing options to incarceration.
Jail time for petty disorderly persons offenses is not often imposed by the courts, although it is not outside the realm of possibility. A judge may be more willing to impose alternative sentencing options such as probation or community service. Depending on your circumstances, it may also be possible to enter a diversion program where the charges will be dismissed upon program completion.
Even though significant jail time is not on the table for disorderly conduct, the charges should still be taken seriously as they will be reflected in your criminal history. For assistance with your case, call our Cape May disorderly conduct defense attorneys today.
Defenses to Disorderly Conduct Charges in Atlantic County, New Jersey
Disorderly conduct can be a bit subjective as only offensive or improper behavior is punished. Precisely what kind of behavior is considered offensive enough to be charged as disorderly conduct is not an easy question to answer. Whether or not certain behaviors are acceptable or appropriate often depends on the setting. Things you might say in public at a rowdy bar may not be acceptable to say on a crowded subway train.
A critical defense to disorderly conduct charges involves invoking your right to freedom of speech and expression. The legal profession so highly values your freedom of speech that many types of outrageously offensive behavior have been protected in the name of free speech.
If you were charged with disorderly conduct, you might be able to defend yourself by claiming that whatever inappropriate actions you performed were done as an expression of your social or political views. Think about protestors marching down a public street. Protest slogans are often designed to offend because the protestors are trying to draw attention to an important issue or topic. However, protestors are not usually charged with disorderly conduct because they are exercising their right to free speech.
Contact our New Jersey disorderly conduct defense lawyers to help you with your charges. We can review your case and come up with the best defense possible under the circumstances.
How Disorderly Conduct Charges Affect Your Criminal Record in Atlantic County, New Jersey
Disorderly conduct is a petty disorderly persons offense and is technically not considered a “crime” under the law. However, these charges will still appear on your criminal record and may come back to haunt you in the future. Many defendants may not want to fight their charges because the penalties are somewhat lenient. Once your sentence is served, you may be able to expunge the charges.
An expungement is when the courts seal any record of your charges away. From that point on, your charges are treated as if they do not exist. If someone were to contact the court about your record, they would not disclose the existence of any expunged charges. However, not everyone is always eligible for expungement, and you should speak with our Ocean City disorderly conduct defense lawyers about getting your record expunged.
Contact Our Atlantic County Disorderly Conduct Defense Lawyers Today
If you have been charged with disorderly conduct in New Jersey, you should seek legal assistance instead of trying to handle things independently. Even for simple charges, the legal process can be complicated and difficult. Call the Law Offices of John J. Zarych at (609) 616-4956 to set up a private and free legal consultation.