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Explaining the Difference Between Indictable Crimes and Disorderly Persons Offenses in New Jersey

Explaining the Difference Between Indictable Crimes and Disorderly Persons Offenses in New Jersey

Criminal Defense Overview

Under New Jersey law, violations of the state’s criminal code fall into different categories of severity. The more serious category of criminal code violations are indictable criminal offenses, while the less serious category are the disorderly persons offense/petty disorderly persons offense. Which category a criminal code violation falls into depends on the type and severity of the violation and the circumstances of the act.

What Are Disorderly Persons Offenses

Disorderly persons offenses are the lower level of criminal charges under New Jersey law. There are two types of this offense — the disorderly persons offense and the petty disorderly persons offense, which are determined by the severity of the criminal act. 

Disorderly persons offenses and petty disorderly persons offenses are usually tried in the municipal court for the city or township where the criminal act was alleged to have taken place. Most convictions for disorderly persons offenses do not result in jail time. Instead, persons who are convicted of disorderly persons offenses are typically sentenced to probation, fines, and community service. When a sentence for a disorderly persons offense conviction does include jail time, it can include as much as six months in county jail for a disorderly persons offense and 30 days in county jail for a petty disorderly persons offense.  

What Are Indictable Offenses

Indictable offenses are more serious crimes, which range in degrees from fourth (the least severe) to first (the most severe). Indictable offenses must be presented to a grand jury, who must indict a defendant with the criminal charge before he or she can be brought to trial. 

The range of sentences that are possible for a conviction for an indictable offense depend on the severity of the criminal offense. Sentences can range from heavy fines and years of probation, all the way up to decades of incarceration in state prison. Fourth degree criminal convictions can have sentences that include up to 18 months in state prison and a maximum fine of $10,000, while a first degree criminal conviction can have a sentence that includes 10 to 20 years, 20 to 30 years, or up to life (for crimes such as murder) in prison, along with fines as heavy as $200,000.

Indictable offense convictions can also have collateral consequences to convictions, such as:

  • Driver’s license suspensions
  • Requirements to attend drug/alcohol rehabilitation or
  • Anger management treatment or
  • Sex offender registration obligations

Being Charged With and Convicted of Disorderly Persons or Indictable Offenses

If you’ve been charged with a crime in New Jersey, it is important to understand how criminal offenses are categorized under New Jersey law. The categorization of your offense as a disorderly persons offense or an indictable offense, and the gradation within those categories, can affect how your case progresses and the potential sentence you may face if you are convicted.

Regardless of whether you’ve been charged with a disorderly persons offense or an indictable offense, the prosecutor will be required to present sufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you committed each element of the charged offense. 

Contact an Experienced Haddon Township Criminal Defense Lawyer About Your Charges in New Jersey

Were you arrested or charged with a crime or disorderly persons offense in New Jersey? The consequences of a conviction could be severe, leaving you with a permanent criminal record and possibly even sending you to jail. That is why you need to speak with a qualified criminal defense attorney as soon as possible about your case. The Law Office of Jill R. Cohen has successfully represented clients charged with crimes or disorderly persons offenses in Camden, Cherry Hill, Gloucester Township, Winslow, and throughout New Jersey. Call (856) 242-7177 or fill out the online contact form to schedule a consultation with a member of our legal team. We have an office conveniently located at 210 Haddon Ave., Haddon Township, NJ 08108.

The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.