Disorderly persons offenses and petty disorderly persons offenses, also known as non-indictable offenses or misdemeanors in other states, are the most common non-vehicular charges handled by New Jersey’s municipal court system. They are not considered crimes per se under N.J.S.A. 2C:1-4, being less severe than indictable crimes, also known as felonies. These offenses do not go before a grand jury or to a jury trial like indictable crimes do, however, this does not mean the penalties are light by any means. Disorderly persons offenses can have serious consequences including jail time, hefty fines and a permanent criminal record.
What Offenses Are Judged to be Disorderly Persons Offenses?
Below are some of the more frequent disorderly persons offenses that end up in the court system. They cover a wide range of charges.
- Simple Assault
- Writing Bad Checks
- Possession of Drug Paraphernalia
- Possession of Marijuana (less than 50 grams)
- Criminal Mischief (less than $500 in damages)
- Public Lewdness
- Resisting Arrest
- Disorderly Conduct
- Obstruction of Justice
- Receiving Stolen Property (less than $200 in value)
- Shoplifting (more than $2 but less than $200 in retail value)
- Petty Theft (less than $200 in value)
Petty disorderly persons offenses are considered less serious and typically have less jail time and smaller fines. The exact difference in the penalties can be seen below.
Penalties for Disorderly Persons Offenses in NJ
While much less serious than indictable crimes, disorderly persons offense can still carry life-impacting consequences.
- Disorderly Persons Offense
- Up to 6 months in jail
- Fines up to $1,000
- Potential for driver’s license to be revoked for up to 2 years
Note that the judge can suspend your license regardless of whether a motor vehicle was involved in the offense. Petty disorderly persons offenses are charged as follows:
- Petty Disorderly Persons Offense
- Up to 30 days in jail
- Fines of up to $500
The other big penalty that applies to both kinds of offenses is that you will have a permanent criminal record. This means that any employer who runs a background check with see the offense. It can result in licensed professionals, like nurses or lawyers, losing their license and thus damaging their careers. It can impact your ability to rent a house or apartment or apply for financial aid or loans. It can also affect your immigration status. It is therefore imperative that you contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer in order to beat your charges before they can severely impact your life.
Statute of Limitations
There is a limited timeframe in which the state can wait to bring charges against you before the complaint is barred from prosecution. This is known as the statute of limitations. For disorderly persons offenses this timeframe is usually 1 year.
Can a Disorderly Persons Offense Be Expunged
If you are wondering whether you can ever have a disorderly persons offense wiped off your record, the answer is yes. This is called expungement. However, there are specific criteria you must meet in order to have an offense expunged.
- First, you have to wait 5 years from either the conviction or the completion of probation and payment of all fines, whichever is later.
- Next, you must also have no more than one indictable offense on your record and if you have an indictable offense, you must have no more than 3 additional disorderly persons offenses.
- If you have no indictable offenses, you must have 4 or less disorderly persons offenses on your record.
- You also cannot have had an offense previously dismissed by Pre-Trial Intervention or Conditional Discharge.
It is important to have a lawyer represent you during your expungement case. It is a very technical process and you want everything to go smoothly so you can put the past behind you.
Facing a Disorderly Persons Offense in NJ?
If you have been charged with a disorderly persons offense, then you need an expert NJ criminal defense lawyer by your side. At Gold, Albanese & Barletti L.L.C., we handle disorderly persons offenses in Morristown, and all over New Jersey. Don’t let a disorderly persons offense derail your life. WIth our knowledge and experience, we can help you understand your options and minimize the potential penalties.