Disorderly conduct is one of the most commonly charged crimes in New Jersey. This article answers several frequently asked questions (FAQ’s) about disorderly conduct. Our criminal defense lawyers explain some common reasons why disorderly conduct is charged, the type of crime disorderly conduct is considered in NJ, whether disorderly conduct charges can be dropped, and expungement rules that apply to disorderly conduct charges. If you are in need of assistance with a disorderly conduct case, we encourage you to contact our criminal defense firm for a free consultation. We have vast experience defending clients charged with disorderly conduct in New Brunswick, Edison, Woodbridge, Old Bridge, Carteret, Metuchen, Piscataway, South Brunswick, and other Middlesex County towns. Please call (732) 659-9600 for more information and to discuss your defense for disorderly conduct.
Why do People Get Charged with Disorderly Conduct in NJ?
You can be charged with disorderly conduct in a wide variety of situations. An argument that got out of hand, a house party that disturbed the neighbors, getting rowdy at a bar, sports event, or concert, and more. If any of these situations result in a call to the police, there is a good chance you can face a disorderly conduct charge.
Is Disorderly Conduct a Misdemeanor in New Jersey?
One of your first questions after being cited or charged with disorderly conduct will likely be whether you have been charged with a misdemeanor or other type of criminal offense. At the outset, it’s important to recognize that unlike most states, New Jersey does not use the technical terms “misdemeanor” or “felony.” Felony-level offenses involving state prison time are referred to as indictable offenses and misdemeanor-level offenses are called disorderly persons offenses and petty disorderly persons offenses.
Disorderly conduct is typically classified as a petty disorderly persons offense. This means that disorderly conduct is less serious than a felony charge but it is still a criminal offense. In other words, any resulting conviction will show up on a criminal background check run by an employer, professional licensing board, or law enforcement agency. Being convicted of disorderly conduct can also result in up to 30 days in the county jail and a $500 fine, so you should take the offense seriously.
Can You Get a Disorderly Conduct Charge Dropped in NJ?
It is often possible, depending on the facts of your case and the severity of your conduct, for a skilled criminal defense attorney to negotiate a reduction in your disorderly conduct charge or even get the charge dropped altogether. If your lawyer successfully challenges the evidence in your disorderly conduct case, your charges may be dismissed outright. You can speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney about the defenses that may apply to your disorderly conduct charge by contacting us day or night.
Additionally, your charge may be downgraded from a petty disorderly persons offense to an even lower-level municipal ordinance violation if your attorney is able to convince the prosecutor that you have mitigating facts in your favor. A municipal ordinance is not technically a criminal conviction and you can usually resolve the case by simply paying a fine.
Can I Expunge Disorderly Conduct in New Jersey?
It is possible to get a disorderly conduct charge expunged from your criminal record in New Jersey, provided you meet a number of criteria and follow the right steps. Generally, to be eligible for expungement of a disorderly conduct conviction or any other conviction for a petty disorderly persons offense for that matter you must wait for five years after the case is resolved. You must also have no more than three other convictions for disorderly persons or petty disorderly persons offenses on your record. If the charge is dismissed, you can apply for an expungement immediately.
If you end up with a conviction for a municipal ordinance offense in a disorderly conduct case, you must wait two years to seek an expungement. If you have been convicted of an indictable offense in the past, that can complicate your ability to expunge a disorderly conduct charge. There are different waiting periods and exclusions that apply depending on the specific felony charge that led to the conviction.
If you are able to get your disorderly conduct charge or conviction expunged, a court will direct law enforcement personnel and jail or other state officers to destroy or seal those records and prevent the charge or conviction from appearing on your rap sheet and thus your criminal background checks. This can improve your chances of finding housing or looking for work, among a number of other benefits. The expungement process can be technical, so it is advisable consult a qualified lawyer who can assist you throughout this process.
Should I Hire a Lawyer for a Disorderly Conduct Charge in Woodbridge?
Absolutely. If you are seeking the best possible result, a knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer can significantly improve your chances of obtaining a good outcome. Contact our defense lawyers for immediate assistance with your disorderly conduct charges. We attorneys to find out what are are facing and how we can assist you depending on the facts of your case. You can call (732) 659-9600 for a free consultation or contact us online to arrange an appointment at our local offices in Edison.