You’ve likely heard of the term “disorderly conduct” before. It’s a commonly charged crime that usually serves as a catch-all for unruly and disruptive behavior. For the average person, this definition can seem frustratingly broad. Understanding the finer points of how this crime is defined can help you avoid charges and the number of negative consequences that come with it. Here is a short guide to disorderly conduct charges in New Jersey and what you need to know to protect your rights.
New Jersey Law And Disorderly Conduct
Under the applicable New Jersey statute, a person is guilty of disorderly conduct if they are deemed to be showing improper behavior in a public setting. Improper behavior includes fighting, threats of violence, or creating a dangerous atmosphere (think throwing glass bottles in public).
Actions are not the only way you can get arrested for this crime.
Offensive or harassing language, such as racial slurs and other abusive words, is also covered under New Jersey law. Police officers have broad latitude to arrest members of the public, as long as they can point to specific behaviors that indicate they committed an offense.
A commonly asked question about these charges is what about free speech, though? Isn’t whatever I say covered under the First Amendment? Sorry, but that right isn’t an absolute one. Threatening language and hate speech is one of the exceptions that the First Amendment does not cover, so always watch your words whenever you’re in public, especially around law enforcement officers. Punishment for disorderly conduct can be a hefty fine and up to 30 days in jail.
What If I’ve Been Charged In Error?
Sometimes, a person charged with disorderly conduct is just in the wrong place at the wrong time. Sadly, we live in a world where some people are still judged by the color of their skin, dress, or perceived religious bias. Sometimes people are considered “guilty by association” simply because their friends or acquaintances nearby were involved in illegal behavior. In these cases, police often arrest everyone in the area to diffuse the situation and expect a quick plea deal.
Most people assume that the easiest way to solve this problem is to accept a quick plea deal and go about your life. This is NOT the answer if you believe you are innocent of the charges. Even though disorderly conduct is considered a petty crime in New Jersey, if you plead guilty it still goes on your record, and you may not be able to purge (clear your legal record) it for 5 years! Call a criminal defense attorney right away. They will be able to advise you on the best course of action if you are charged, or may even be able to get the charges dismissed. The quickest way is not always the best way for the accused when it comes to the criminal justice system. Even if your charges are minor, it’s always a good idea to consult an experienced criminal attorney.
Contact an Experienced Camden Criminal Defense Lawyer About Your Disorderly Persons Offense Charges in New Jersey
Were you arrested or charged with a 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 attorneys at the Law Offices of Jill R. Cohen have successfully represented clients charged with disorderly persons offense in Cherry Hill, Gloucester Township, Pennsauken, Winslow and throughout NJ. Contact the Law Offices of Jill R. Cohen at 856-830-6433 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 Avenue, 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.