A disorderly persons offense is the equivalent of a misdemeanor in other states. New Jersey treats a disorderly persons offense as a minor criminal offense. Although NJ’s criminal code only designates indictable offenses as crimes, a disorderly persons offense conviction will complicate your life.
If you’ve been charged with a disorderly persons offense, it’s not the end of the world. As criminal lawyers, we’ve represented thousands of clients with disorderly persons offense charges. Our main goal is to get the charges dismissed but if this is not possible, we work out favorable plea deals. Often, we can get a disorderly persons offense downgraded or amended to a local ordinance.
Marijuana possession, shoplifting, harassment, criminal mischief, resisting arrest, obstruction of justice and lewdness are among the most common disorderly persons offenses.
A typical marijuana possession charge starts out as a traffic violation. Whether our clients are in Bergen, Essex, Hudson, or Passaic County, these disorderly persons offense charges stem from a speeding or other traffic stop. The police approach the vehicle to request the driver’s credentials when they smell the strong odor of marijuana emanating from the vehicle.
Bergen County shoplifting cases generally arise in nearby malls. The Paramus police department makes thousands of shoplifting arrests at the Westfield Plaza, Paramus Park, and the Bergen Malls.
Simple assault is another disorderly persons offense. These charges often arise in domestic violence situations & restraining orders are issued. If your disorderly persons charge involves domestic violence, you will not be eligible for the conditional dismissal program.
Resisting arrest & obstruction of justice are two disorderly persons offenses that are usually charged together. By their definitions, one necessarily creates the other. When you resist arrest, you obstruct justice & vice versa. Our criminal lawyers have handled countless cases like these. Let us help you now with yours.
Another set of disorderly persons offenses commonly charged together are lewdness & criminal mischief. Criminal mischief usually has to do with the destruction of another’s property but there’s a catchall provision that covers broad conduct. Lewdness can either be a sex crime or an offensive act like urinating in public. Since we are discussing lewdness as a disorderly persons offense, chances are that if you were caught in public urinating on someone’s property (causing damage), then you may be facing these two charges.
A disorderly persons offense or petty disorderly persons offense conviction will leave with a criminal record. And yes, they will pop up on a background check. If you have a professional license i.e., teacher, nurse, pharmacist, stockbroker, etc., you can face suspension and/or termination.
In addition to fines, you will have to pay:
Lastly, it is important to understand that for CDS charges, the court could impose probation and even suspend or revoke a defendant’s driver’s license for up to 2 years.
Disorderly persons cases are handled in Municipal Court. Each municipality in New Jersey has its own municipal court. For example, Hackensack, Jersey City, Newark, and Paterson all have their own court. Your case will be resolved in the town/city where you were charged.
If you go to trial, your case will not go before a jury. Instead, the local municipal court judge will decide your guilt or innocence. If you are found guilty at trial and you are not eligible for a diversionary program, your disorderly persons conviction will stay on your record for 5 years. You must appeal the municipal judge’s decision within 20 days.
All appeals of municipal court decisions take place at the county level.
New Jersey offers two types of diversionary programs for a disorderly persons offense.
If your charges involve CDS like marijuana, then you may be eligible for the conditional discharge program.
In non-drug cases, you may be eligible for the conditional dismissal program. Successful completion in either of these two programs will result in the dismissal of your criminal charges. You will not get a criminal conviction on your record & you will improve your chances of keeping your employment. Once dismissed, these charges will not appear in a background check. However, it is important to expunge the arrest record once your charges get dismissed.
A disorderly persons offense conviction may have serious immigration consequences. Although you may plead guilty to a disorderly persons offense and avoid jail, if you are not a United States citizen, you just might yourself under deportation proceedings. Under federal immigration law, a disorderly persons offense may be considered a crime involving moral turpitude. So you might think that it’s ok to pay a fine in municipal court & be done with your case only to find out that immigration will revoke your green card or place under deportation proceedings. Let us help you.
You or a loved one have been arrested. Understandably, you are terrified & have a lot of questions. You’ve heard about plea bargains & probation, but the process is overwhelming. You want a local attorney near you to represent you.
Mr. Peyrouton is from Ridgewood & handles all types of criminal matters in New Jersey complex as well as nearby cities. The New Jersey Law Journal recently published one of his articles on the subject of criminal law.
Regardless of the criminal charges you are facing, we are here to defend & protect you. Whether you are facing a restraining order, drug charge, theft charge, or aggravated assault charge, we are here to help you. Even a DWI case can really complicate your life.
If we can’t get your charges dismissed, we can either get them downgraded or place you in a diversionary program. The point is, our criminal defense lawyers will fight tirelessly to get you the best result possible. Take advantage of our free consultation to see how we can help.
Below, you will find a few of our practice areas.
There are plenty of excellent Hackensack criminal lawyers in our area. Most, if not all of them, offer free, 20-minute, consultations. However, our free consultations do not have a time limit. You will never feel rushed.
The best way for us to help you is to patiently listen to your side of the story. Your version of events will serve as the basis for your legal defense. It is during these initial meetings that your memory of the event is fresh in your mind. Why we would rush you during such an important aspect of your case.
We understand that your choice of attorney could mean the difference between your freedom and spending years behind bars.
When you hire an attorney, you are entering a long-term relationship. For this reason, it is important that you feel comfortable with the team of Hackensack criminal lawyers that will represent you.