One of the most common type of criminal charges issued in Ocean County, New Jersey is known as a disorderly persons offense. Our criminal defense lawyers are often asked: “what is a disorderly persons offense?” “Have I been charged with a crime?” “Is disorderly persons the same as disorderly conduct?” At Proetta & Oliver, our attorneys understand this may be the first time you are involved in a criminal case and we can help. In this article, we will explain what a disorderly persons offense is, and answer some of the most frequently-asked questions (FAQs) about disorderly persons charges at the Jersey Shore.
If you would like to discuss your specific disorderly persons case in Ocean County, contact the law offices of Proetta & Oliver in Toms River, NJ at (848) 238-2100 for a free consultation with an experienced attorney.
What is a Disorderly Persons Offense?
A disorderly persons offense is a broad classification of criminal offenses in New Jersey. When you think of disorderly persons offenses, you can compare them to misdemeanors. In other words, a disorderly persons offense is not an indictable crime, or felony. It is not a specific criminal offense but an umbrella under which many criminal offenses fall.
Common Disorderly Persons Charges in Ocean County, NJ
Some of the most common disorderly persons offenses in Ocean County include:
- Possession of marijuana under 50 grams
- Possession of drug paraphernalia
- Disorderly conduct
- Underage possession or consumption of alcohol
- Fake ID possession
- Simple assault
- Criminal mischief
What are the Penalties for a Disorderly Persons Offense?
According to the statute that governs degrees of crimes in New Jersey, N.J.S.A . 2C:1‑4, a disorderly persons offense cannot be punished by more than 6 months in the county jail. The penalties for a disorderly persons offense include a county jail sentence of up to 6 months, whereas indictable crimes are punishable by NJ State Prison time. Additional penalties that may be imposed if you are convicted of a disorderly persons charge include a fine of up to $1,000, community service, court fees, suspension of your driving privileges, and/or probation. It is also important to note that you will have a criminal record if convicted of a disorderly persons offense in New Jersey. However, you may be eligible for an expungement after five years.
Where do I go to Court for a Disorderly Persons Charge?
Municipal courts in New Jersey are responsible for handling disorderly persons offenses, motor vehicle violations, and municipal ordinances. If you are charged with a disorderly persons offense, you will be required to appear in the municipal court associated with the town where the alleged offense occurred. So, if you are issued a charge for a disorderly persons offense in Lavallette, your case will be handled in Lavallette Municipal Court. Felony charges in Ocean County are sent to the Ocean County Superior Court, Criminal Division. Notably, your case in municipal court will be decided by a single municipal court judge, not a jury of your peers. That is, of course, unless you have an attorney who reaches a favorable deal with the prosecutor.
How do you Resolve a Disorderly Persons Case?
There are several options for successfully handling a disorderly persons charge. First, our lawyers will thoroughly examine your case to identify any potential grounds for a dismissal. For example, violations of your constitutional rights or police errors may be used to argue that the charges should be dismissed outright. Also, we are often able to have a disorderly persons offense downgraded to a municipal ordinance violation, which allows our clients to avoid having a criminal record. In other cases, our lawyers help clients secure admission into a diversionary program such as conditional discharge or conditional dismissal. These programs allow you to complete a period of probation, after which the charges against you are dismissed. In disorderly persons cases, our number one priority is always to find and pursue the best possible result.
Charged with a Disorderly Persons Offense? Contact Toms River NJ Disorderly Persons Lawyers for a Free Consultation
The talented criminal defense attorneys at Proetta & Oliver defend clients charged with a myriad of disorderly persons offenses in Ocean County, NJ. We have successfully handled thousands of disorderly persons cases in New Jersey, ranging from marijuana possession to disorderly conduct. If you are facing disorderly persons charges in Seaside Heights, Point Pleasant, Brick, Ocean Township, Lavallette, Barnegat, Long Beach Island, or surrounding areas, contact us today at (848) 238-2100 for a free consultation.