What to Know About Disorderly Conduct Charges in New Jersey

A variety of laws exist to deter and punish harmful behavior, including disorderly person’s offenses. This law embodies an assortment of aggressive actions and, as a result, can include and punish forms of behavior that you might not expect. Here’s an overview of what a disorderly person’s offense is in New Jersey law and the penalties the accused can expect to receive.

What Is a Disorderly Person’s Offense in New Jersey?

A defendant will be found guilty of a New Jersey disorderly person’s offense if it is proven they intentionally acted aggressively to anger, annoy, or alarm another person or the public. Given how broad this definition is, it covers a wide range of foul actions and behavior. However, New Jersey law does charge disorderly person’s offenses in two different ways — improper behavior and offensive language.

Improper Behavior

An individual who fights, violently threatens another person, or creates dangerous conditions for no legitimate reason can be charged with improper behavior. As mentioned previously, this terminology is incredibly all-encompassing and can refer to numerous forms of dangerous behaviors. It can be a violent brawl, throwing objects that could injure someone, and countless other actions that are dangerous and do not take the safety of others into account.

Offensive Language

New Jersey disorderly person’s offenses aren’t just physical actions. Any offensive language that was intended to offend the hearer and is recklessly spoken can also result in a charge. Such language can be offensive or abusive, and also include racial slurs and harassment. Yelling or screaming in another’s face can constitute offensive language. Some individuals may believe that they have the right to say anything they want under the first amendment — but freedom of speech does not include hate speech or vocal threats.

Charges for a New Jersey Disorderly Person’s Offense

While being charged for a New Jersey disorderly person’s offense can lead to an arrest and pre-trial lockup, it won’t result in prison time. This behavior falls under a petty disorderly offense and is punished with a maximum fine of $500 and up to 30 days in jail. However, being charged with a disorderly person’s offense can sometimes incur other penalties. The court may tell the defendant to pay restitution for anything that was damaged due to their violent behavior, as well as do community service or serve probation. Additionally, if they used their motor vehicle in the offense, their license can be suspended for two years. Be mindful that a disorderly persons charge can also be issued along with other indictable offenses, such as simple assault.

Defending Against a New Jersey Disorderly Person’s Offense

The statute of limitations for disorderly person’s offenses in New Jersey is usually one year, meaning that the accused can’t be charged if over a year has passed since the incident. In the event you are charged with a disorderly person’s offense, there are several methods of defending against it. Given that the prosecution must prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that your actions were improper and offensive, calling witnesses who offer a different view can challenge their evidence. Any other proof, such as video recordings, can prove to be immensely valuable in defending the charge.

If you or someone you know needs assistance defending against a New Jersey disorderly person’s offense charge, then contact the Law Office of Zapicchi and Liller. As one of the best criminal attorneys in NJ, our legal team covers a wide range of cases, including our DUI lawyers in NJ. For more information and to schedule a meeting with one of our experienced attorneys, reach out to us today.