What Is a Disorderly Persons Offense?
New Jersey classifies lower level crimes as disorderly persons offenses. This charge is less serious than a felony, but a conviction can still carry serious penalties, including jail time and heavy fines. These are generally summary offenses, which means a person can be tried without facing a jury. By contrast, an indictable offense means a person must first be tried on an indictment after a preliminary hearing to determine whether there is a prima facie case to answer or by a grand jury.
Examples of disorderly persons offenses include:
- Simple Assault
- Possession of Less than 50 Grams of Marijuana
- Drug Paraphernalia
- Shoplifting (less than $200)
- Disorderly Conduct
- Resisting Arrest
- Bad Checks
What is the Difference Between a Misdemeanor and Disorderly Persons Offense?
They are the same thing. What most states call misdemeanors are called disorderly persons offenses in New Jersey.
What is the Difference Between a Petty Disorderly Persons Offense and a Disorderly Persons Offense?
Petty disorderly persons offenses are less serious than other disorderly persons offense. As such, they carry less jail time and smaller fines (see below).
What Are the Penalties for Disorderly Persons and Petty Disorderly Persons Offenses?
A conviction for a disorderly persons offense can result in a fine of up to $1,000 and up to six months in jail. In some cases, a judge can suspend or revoke driving privileges for up to two years even if the crime was not traffic or driving-related.
For petty disorderly persons cases, the maximum fine imposed can be $500 and up to 30 days in jail.
Read more on New Jersey Sentencing Guidelines.
Do Disorderly Persons Offenses Result in a Criminal Record?
Yes. Any conviction for a disorderly persons offense or petty disorderly persons offense will mean having a permanent criminal record. This means any employer who runs a background check will see the offense. In addition, those who have professional licenses, such as nurses, lawyers, pharmacists, stockbrokers, etc., can lose their license and thus see their career derailed. A criminal record can also reduce access to financial aid, affect applications for housing, and impact one’s immigration status. For all these reasons and more it is critical that anyone charged with a disorderly persons offense in New Jersey hired a skilled criminal defense attorney.
What is the Statute of Limitations for Disorderly Persons Offense in New Jersey?
The statute of limitations limits the length of time the state can wait before filing charges against a person. The limitation for disorderly persons offenses is usually one year.
Can I Avoid Jail Time for a Disorderly Persons Offense?
For individuals with no prior criminal record there is a presumption of non-incarceration in New Jersey. This means it is presumed the person will not receive a jail sentence since he/she has not had much if any problem with the law before. However, those with priors could very well be facing jail time. Either way, it is important that one hire a criminal defense attorney to maximize the chances of getting the charges dismissed or reduced so as to mitigate the risk of going to jail.
Where Will This Charge be Tried?
Disorderly persons offenses are tried in municipal court in the municipality in which the defendant was charged.
Can Disorderly Persons Offenses be Expunged?
Yes, but there is a five-year waiting period before one can apply to have the charge expunged. In addition, a person can only request an expungement if they have four or fewer disorderly persons convictions OR one felony conviction and three or fewer disorderly persons convictions.
Getting an expungement is a complicated yet achievable process, and it is best done with the aid of an experience attorney. To learn more read our Guide to Expungements in NJ.
What Should I Do If I am Charged with a Disorderly Persons Offense in NJ?
The best course of action for any individual facing a disorderly persons charge in New Jersey is to get legal representation. A skilled criminal defense attorney can assess the charge(s) and evidence to determine the best possible defense. An experienced attorney will know how to avoid or mitigate the risk of jail, fines, and other long-term consequences that can come with a conviction.
If you or someone you love is being charged with a disorderly persons offense in New Jersey, contact the Rosenblum Law Firm right away. Our team of skilled criminal defense attorneys have extensive experience helping people in similar situations. Email the Rosenblum Law Firm or call 888-979-7551 today for a free consultation about your case.