The New Jersey Criminal Code classifies violation in terms of severity by grade. The category of charges that are typically heard in municipal court are disorderly persons offenses. The following are some of the most common questions concerning this variety of charge:
Is a disorderly persons offense a felony or misdemeanor?
The technical answer is that a disorderly persons offense is neither a misdemeanor nor felony because NJ Law does not use these terms to describe this class of violation. Nonetheless, a disorderly persons offense would be very much akin to a misdemeanor as it involves the least serious category of offense and six months or less of jail.
Will I have a record if I am convicted of a disorderly persons offense?
Yes. Unfortunately, a conviction results in a 2C record that will show up on a criminal background check.
What penalties may be imposed if I am convicted?
The maximum fine for a disorderly persons offense is $1,000. There are also a slew of mandatory court assessments that must be applied in the event of a conviction. You may also be incarcerated in the county jail for up to six (6) months.
Can I get the conviction removed from my record in the event I am convicted?
If you meet the qualification requirements for expungment (i.e. never had a record expunged previously, etc.), you can have the conviction removed after a five (5) year waiting period.
Can my driving privileges be suspended?
Some disorderly persons offenses, trigger a mandatory suspension of an individual’s driving privileges. For example, there is a mandatory six (6) month license revocation for all drug possession and paraphernalia convictions.
Are there defense that allow us to avoid a conviction?
There are many plausible defenses to a disorderly persons offense. It may be that you never committed the violation at all or were somehow justified under the law in engaging in the conduct. Perhaps, the complaint was filed outside the statute of limitation. And even where no defense exists, we are often able to have the complaint downgraded to a municipal ordinance violation. This allows you to avoid a record.
What are common disorderly persons offenses in New Jersey?
Statistics issued by the Administrative Offices of the Courts indicate that over 250,000 complaints alleging disorderly persons violations were issued over the last year. While the violations involve a wide variety of offenses, there are some that arise more often than not including shoplifting, possession of less than 50 grams of marijuana, simple assault, and disorderly conduct.
Is there a diversionary program that allows me to avoid a conviction, for example, conditional discharge or pretrial intervention?
Yes. If you are a first time offender facing a disorderly persons offense, other than a drug related charge, you are eligible for the condition dismissal program. This program allows you to avoid prosecution by submitting to a probationary program of up to one (1) year. During this term, you must remain free from additional violations of the law, other than minor traffic offenses, as well as comply with any other conditions imposed by the court. Provided the program is successfully completed, the original complaint is dismissed with prejudice. A similar program known as conditional discharge is available for disorderly persons drug offenses like possession of drug paraphernalia or marijuana.
Union County Disorderly Persons Offense Defense Lawyers
Our firm has defending thousands of disorderly persons offenses over the years. This experience affords us insight of not only the workings of a municipal court like the one in Cranford, Westfield and Linden, but also those strategies that have proven successful time and time again. To learn more about how our attorneys can assist you, call us at 908-272-1700 for a free consultation.