If you have ever been to a rowdy party or bar, you might be quite familiar with this criminal offense. When the police are called in to break up a fight or to apprehend an exceptionally rude individual who is endangering the welfare of others, Disorderly Conduct is the crime that that they will charge him with. If you or a loved one have been charged with Disorderly Conduct, it is imperative that you understand the penalties you face. Be sure to contact an experienced NJ criminal defense attorney who can help protect your liberty and livelihood.
Understanding the Offense (N.J.S.A. 2C:33-2)
Under N.J.S.A. 2C:33-2, Disorderly Conduct is a disorderly persons offense and is charged in two ways.
- Improper Behavior [2C:33-2(a)]: You can be convicted of Disorderly Conduct due to exhibiting improper behavior if you engage in fighting or threatening violent or tumultuous behavior. Additionally, if you create a hazardous or physically dangerous condition by any act that does not serve a legitimate purpose, you can also be convicted of this.
- Offensive Language [2C:33-2(b)]: Although this is prosecuted much less often, you can be convicted of Disorderly Conduct due to uttering offensive language if you say something offensively coarse or abusive loudly and in public with the purpose of offending the hearer. Also, even if you do not intend to offend the hearer but act in reckless disregard of doing so, you can still be convicted.
In this context, “public” means a place where a substantial group of people have access. In other words, highways, transport facilities, schools, prisons, apartment houses, places of business or entertainment, and neighborhoods all constitute “public” places. In most cases, even a concert hall or a sports stadium can count as a “public” place.
Penalties for Disorderly Conduct
Being convicted of Disorderly Conduct is much more serious than most think. Although it is only a disorderly persons offense, it will appear on your criminal record and can be a huge red flag for prospective employers. Moreover, for a simple loss of control, you can end up behind bars for up to 30 days and might incur a fine of up to $500. If your actions caused any damage, the judge can make you pay restitution. This means that you will be forced to pay for all of the damage you caused.
How You Can Win
Remember, you have constitutional rights that cannot be taken away from you. Just like a police officer cannot search you simply because he wants to, he cannot arrest you without an extremely good reason for doing so.
You have a First Amendment right to freedom of speech. As such, as long as the words you utter do not incite an immediate breach of the peace, an officer will have a very hard time justifying your arrest for Disorderly Conduct due to using offensive language. This means that the prosecution will bear a heavy burden of proof whenever they try to convict you of Disorderly Conduct due to uttering offensive language.
Not only will an experienced defense attorney be able to help you raise this defense, but he can also diffuse a prosecutor’s case altogether by providing concrete evidence for why your words did not bring about or incite an immediate breach of the peace. Moreover, when it comes to Disorderly Conduct due to improper behavior, a good criminal defense attorney will be able to show the court that your actions had a legitimate purpose and do not warrant a conviction.
Who Should You Contact?
If you or a loved one was charged with Disorderly Conduct in New Jersey, contact Adam H. Rosenblum of The Rosenblum Law Firm today. Mr. Rosenblum is a skilled criminal defense attorney who has helped people in similar situations. He will defend your constitutional rights, fight to keep you out of jail, and do what he can to have your Disorderly Conduct charges dismissed. E-mail or call him today at 888-815-3649.