In New Jersey, crimes are not categorized as felonies or misdemeanors, as in most other states. The lower levels are considered misdemeanors by most states, while the upper levels are generally felonies in other states. Lower level “misdemeanors” are referred to as disorderly persons offenses in New Jersey and are heard in the Municipal Court. The Superior Court hears higher level crimes, known as indictable offenses. Even though a criminal charge falls into the category of disorderly persons offenses, you should not assume that you do not need an attorney to fight these charges. Disorderly persons offenses can carry significant jail terms, fines, and other punishments. Furthermore, convictions for even minor criminal offenses appear on criminal background checks. Having a criminal record can impact your employment choices and other key areas of your life.
If you have been charged with a disorderly persons offense in Union County, New Jersey, contact the law offices of Proetta & Oliver in Cranford, NJ at (908) 838-0150 for a free consultation with an experienced criminal defense lawyer.
Disorderly Persons Offense Defined
According to NJ Rev Stat §2C:1-4, a disorderly persons offense is not considered “crime” as defined by the New Jersey Criminal Code. These types of offenses are considered “petty offenses” and are not subject to indictment by a grand jury. If you are charged with a disorderly persons offense in New Jersey, you do not have the right to a trial by jury. In fact, your case will be heard in Municipal Court and decided by a single Municipal Court Judge. This is also true for DWI charges and other traffic violations in NJ.
Disorderly Persons Offenses in Union County, New Jersey
You can be charged with a variety of crimes that fall under the category of disorderly persons offenses. Examples of common disorderly persons offense charges in the Union County, NJ, area include:
- Simple Assault
- Underage Drinking
- Disorderly Conduct
- Shoplifting (in amounts less than $200)
- Possession of less than 50 grams of marijuana
What Happens if I’m Convicted of a Disorderly Persons Offense?
The punishments associated with a conviction for a disorderly persons offense include up to six months in jail and up to a $1,000 fine. You may also receive community service, probation, and a suspended driver’s license as part of your sentence. In addition, assessments, fees, and court costs can increase the amount you must pay to the court if convicted of a disorderly persons offense.
It is important to keep in mind that the police, nor the court, will explain any weaknesses in the case against you that may be used to have your charges downgraded or dismissed. You need a knowledgeable NJ criminal defense attorney who can examine every facet of the discovery (evidence) to develop the most effective defense strategy. At Proetta & Oliver, our skilled criminal lawyers are committed to ensuring your legal rights are protected throughout the process.
Can a Disorderly Persons Offense be Expunged from My Record?
Yes, disorderly persons convictions are eligible for an expungement. However, there is a waiting period of five years from the date of your conviction, the payment of fines, or completion of probation, whichever date is later. To qualify for an expungement, you cannot have any criminal convictions since the last disorderly persons offense, and can have no more than four convictions for disorderly persons offenses on your record in total.
Facing Disorderly Persons Offense Charges? Contact Cranford NJ Disorderly Persons Attorneys for More Information
The experienced criminal defense lawyers at Proetta & Oliver aggressively defend clients charged with disorderly persons offenses such as marijuana possession, disorderly conduct, simple assault, and drug paraphernalia in Union County, New Jersey. With thousands of successful results behind us, we are thoroughly equipped to help you resolve your case. If you have been charged with a disorderly person offense in Elizabeth, Cranford, Scotch Plains, Union Township, Kenilworth, Linden, Clark, or nearby communities, contact us now at (908) 838-0150 or reach out online for a free consultation.