Elizabeth Disorderly Conduct Lawyer
March 25, 2020
Disorderly conduct under N.J.S.A. 2C:33-2, is a petty disorderly persons offense that often results in charges filed by police seeking to regulate unwanted behavior. There are many different acts which may serve as the basis for a disorderly conduct charge in Elizabeth, New Jersey, as virtually any behavior or language perceived as “improper” or “offensive,” in a public place may be prohibited under the statute. If the police allege that you violated the law by acting in a disorderly manner in the city of Elizabeth, you may be charged with disorderly conduct and required to attend Elizabeth Municipal Court. Prior to your first appearance, we strongly urge you to seek the advice of legal counsel. Our Elizabeth criminal defense attorneys can help you understand these allegations and the consequences of your disorderly conduct charges, as well as assist you in making an informed decision about how best to handle your case. The following explains the nature a disorderly conduct offense and the potential penalties you face if convicted. To discuss your unique situation with a disorderly conduct lawyer with years of experience handling criminal cases in Elizabeth, contact us at (908) 838-0150 today. Consultations are always available upon request and provided at no cost to you.
Facing Elizabeth Disorderly Conduct Charges
Under NJSA 2C:33-2, conduct giving rise to a disorderly conduct charge must be perceived as violent, offensive, tumultuous, and serving no legitimate purpose. For instance, perhaps you are accused of being “unreasonably loud, rude, or disruptive.” Likewise, you may be charged with disorderly conduct if your actions create a physically dangerous situation. Or perhaps you are accused of cursing and using obscene language in an accessible public place. Offensive language and generally disturbing behavior examples abound in Elizabeth and elsewhere in New Jersey, frequently leading to charges in municipal court. Of course, not all behavior meets the criteria for “disorderly” under the statute and your language must be considered obscene or offensive to constitute a violation of 2c:33-2.
Moreover, to be found guilty of disorderly conduct, the state must establish that you were, in fact, in public when the offense was committed. The term “public” means anywhere that the public has access to. For example, schools, apartments, amusement parks, libraries, playgrounds, roadways, hospitals, businesses, and prisons are all places that are open to the public. Additionally, public locations encompass places that a substantial group of people have access to, meaning there is a possibility that someone else can be alarmed or affected by your behavior. If there is no likelihood that people could be or are present, or the place is not open to the public, then the state will have significant difficulty proving that you are guilty of disorderly conduct. If the disturbance is proven to have occurred in public, the state still must prove that your conduct rises to the level of an offense for improper behavior or offensive language.
Many people have no idea that for such a simple charge as disorderly conduct, you can be forced to spend time in jail for as much as 30 days. You may also be required to pay a maximum fine of $500. The conviction for this petty disorderly persons offense will be reflected on your criminal record as well, unless and until you apply for an expungement. The waiting period to expunge a petty disorderly persons offense is 5 years from the date of your conviction or satisfactory completion of probation.
Charged with Disorderly Conduct in Elizabeth, What Happens Next?
Anyone charged with disorderly conduct in Elizabeth will appear in Elizabeth Municipal Court, located at 208 Commerce Place in the city of Elizabeth NJ. The discovery (available evidence) in your case will set forth the allegations against you, as well as the names of any witnesses to the alleged offense. However, there are ways to limit your overall sentencing exposure and potentially avoid a criminal conviction altogether. If you enlist our firm’s help, we will review this discovery to determine defenses or arguments that can be made on your behalf. Depending on the situation, you may have a valid argument for the charges being dismissed altogether. Beyond that option, we may be able to speak with the prosecutor and reach a deal that results in a lesser municipal ordinance violation, lower penalties, and you avoiding a criminal conviction on your record.
Consult an Elizabeth NJ Disorderly Conduct Defense Lawyer Today
Disorderly conduct charges can present a serious problem, especially when you want to maintain a clean criminal record. Fortunately, being accused of disorderly conduct is merely the first stage of your case and you have the right to mount the most successful defense strategy available. Regardless of how you found yourself charged with disorderly conduct, our experienced Elizabeth criminal defense lawyers can help you review your options and pursue the best one. Contact our local office in Union County today at (908) 838-0150 for a free consultation.