Disorderly Conduct in Clark Township
August 12, 2020
Clark is a township located in the most southern part of Union County, New Jersey. Sandwiched amongst Scotch Plains, Westfield, Cranford, Edison, Winfield Park, Linden, Rahway, and Woodbridge, it is accessible by car or bus. Perhaps you live here or are just passing through to pick up a prescription at Walgreens, shop at Marshalls, or you are visiting a friend or loved one. While in Clark though, you should be mindful that the Clark Police Department is equipped with body cameras, capable of picking up and recording anything you say or do. Here, the police and town leaders are serious about keeping public order and may record every instance in which the law is violated. This is true in cases of disorderly conduct, a criminal charge under N.J.S.A. 2C: 33-2, particularly a petty disorderly persons offense. Disorderly conduct is in the lowest category of criminal offenses by law in New Jersey, but you can still be sentenced to harsh punishment if charged with a violation and proven guilty. With help from an experienced Clark disorderly conduct defense lawyer, this outcome can potentially be avoided in many ways. Our attorneys have had great success defending clients accused of improper behavior and offensive language in the Clark Municipal Court and we are available 24/7 to discuss your case in a free consultation. Call (908) 838-0150 to learn more..
What is Disorderly Conduct in Clark, New Jersey?
For the Township of Clark and everywhere else across the state, it is a petty disorderly persons offense to commit acts that qualify as disorderly conduct. You may be wondering what exactly are acts of disorderly conduct? You are not alone. Essentially, almost anything can be considered disorderly conduct if there is no legitimate reason for it, and someone was offended or could have reasonably been offended or alarmed by your actions or words, committed while in public. Under the provisions of the statute, N.J.S.A. 2C: 33-2, it is an offense to commit acts of improper behavior or give voice to an expression amounting to offensive language.
To be accused of improper behavior, it must be alleged that while in public, your actions were intended to cause an inconvenience or alarm, that you desired to be an annoyance to others, or your behavior developed a situation in which this outcome was more possible. You can also be found guilty of this offense if you created the risk of causing such reactions recklessly. Actions giving rise to such charges under subsection (a) include fighting, creating a dangerous or hazardous situation, or behaving in a violent or tumultuous manner.
You may also be charged under subsection (b) of the statute under certain circumstances. Specifically, the Clark police department may charge you under section (b) if it is alleged that you offended someone else by using offensive language. The offensive language must be committed while in public and while having a reckless disregard for the listener’s feelings. The language used is generally described as “unreasonably loud,” “offensively course,” or “abusive.”
Understanding a Clark NJ Disorderly Conduct Charge
Sometimes, disorderly conduct is better illustrated by way of example. Consider the following situation, which we will then review. Jan and her boyfriend are at the Clark New Jersey Transit Bus Station on Terminal Ave. They have been traveling all day and are seemingly over-taxed and underprepared for their journey. The boyfriend tells Jan to shut up, rolling his eyes and yelling at her. Jan becomes irate in response, slaps him, and begins screaming obscenities, as she forcibly pushes her boyfriend backward onto the bench. The question is, did Jan commit an act of disorderly conduct?
The first element that must be met in a crime of disorderly conduct is that the act must be committed in a public setting. Here, we know Jan is at the bus station, which is open to the public. Therefore, the first element is met. The second prong of the statute requires the state to show that the defendant committed prohibited acts (the facts). In the example, Jan did in fact engage in “fighting or tumultuous behavior” by slapping her boyfriend and shoving him back on the bench. Further, she likely committed an act of disorderly conduct by cursing and screaming at her boyfriend. Her language could be described as “loud” or “offensively course.” Since the entire incident may have been offensive, alarming, or annoying to those around the two, charges for disorderly conduct may be filed.
Remember, that the defendant must have committed the prohibited acts in potential earshot of others in order to be found guilty of disorderly conduct. This is the element relating to the public location. In particular, it must be proven that there could have been someone else around who was offended by the conduct. In other words, you cannot be found guilty of disorderly conduct if the incident occurred in your home or another private setting. Likewise, if there is a legitimate reason for a person’s conduct, he or she should arguably not be found guilty of violating N.J.S.A. 2C: 33-2.
Someone yelling expletives is not the only conduct that can lead to a person being charged with disorderly conduct. Other behaviors committed in public allowing for such a charge range from screaming, to loitering, being high or under the influence of a controlled dangerous substance (CDS), public urination, impeding traffic, fighting, threatening someone, cursing, and otherwise causing a public disturbance for no reason.
What You Face for Violating 2C: 33-2 in Clark NJ
If you are alleged to have committed acts of disorderly conduct in Clark, you will receive a summons to attend Clark Township Municipal Court. Your case can be brought back several times. You have the option of pleading to the offense, pleading to something less such as a violation of a town ordinance or, you can choose to have a trial. If found guilty, the judge has the right to sentence you in accordance with the law.
In particular, anyone found guilty of disorderly conduct can go to jail for up to 30 days. You can also be fined up to $500. Aside from the $500, you will be forced to pay a $75 SNF fee, a $50 VCCA fee, and pay court costs. Of course, there are ways around the charge that may lessen the impacts on your future. One way to resolve the case without a criminal charge on your record is to plead to a town ordinance such as a violation of a noise ordinance.
Clark Township Disorderly Conduct Ordinance Violations
Aside from New Jersey’s statute making it an offense to disturb the peace of others while in public, the Township of Clark makes it an offense against the town to do so. Some towns, including Clark, make it a violation of a town ordinance to commit acts of disorderly conduct. You can violate a Clark township ordinance by disturbing the peace in public by having a dispute, disrupting a public meeting, causing threats, or causing a disturbance on private property or by otherwise creating a public nuisance. Being found guilty of an ordinance is not a criminal offense, but instead permits the judge to impose financial and other penalties. Although jail punishments are a possibility, municipal ordinances rarely require more than payment of a fine, and seldom perhaps community service. A petty disorderly orderly persons offense is not the same as a violation of a town ordinance and is considered more serious.
Talk to a Clark NJ Disorderly Conduct Lawyer Near You
Our attorneys can and will help you with the charges you face for disorderly conduct in Clark NJ. We are experienced with defending these cases and know what to expect in Clark Municipal Court. While each client’s individual interests vary, one thing that remains the same is our dedication to you and your case. We can file motions, seek a reduction in punishment or charges, or have a trial to prove your innocence. To fight for you, we need to hear from you. To start your conversation with a Clark disorderly conduct lawyer, contact us at (908) 838-0150 today.