New Jersey Misdemeanor Attorney

New Jersey uses the term “disorderly persons offense” for offenses that most other states call misdemeanors. These crimes are not considered to be as serious as those that are classified as indictable crimes, or felonies. Still, if you are convicted of a disorderly persons offense, you could face fines, incarceration, and a mark on your record that may haunt you for years to come.

If you have been charged with a disorderly persons offense, contact William Proetta Criminal Law right away to speak with an experienced New Jersey misdemeanor attorney. We can explain the charges you are facing, outline the potential penalties, and devise a strategy to fight for the best possible outcome.

Don’t take any chances when your future is on the line. Call or reach us online today for a free and confidential consultation with a trusted local misdemeanor attorney. Our legal team has successfully represented people facing disorderly persons offenses in Ocean, Hudson, Middlesex, and Union counties, as well as across New Jersey.

Common Types of Misdemeanor Charges We Handle

With our extensive experience defending clients throughout New Jersey, our attorneys have successfully handled a wide range of cases involving disorderly persons offenses, including:

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Simple assault and threats

In New Jersey, simple assault may include attempting to injure someone or purposely, knowingly, or recklessly injuring someone, negligently injuring someone with a deadly weapon, or threatening someone with serious bodily injury such as by pointing a knife or firearm at someone.

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False imprisonment

False imprisonment is when a person holds someone in their home or another location against their will. It’s a distinct crime from kidnapping, which is when someone takes another person to another location against their will. False imprisonment accusations often arise in domestic violence cases. Depending on the circumstances, it can be prosecuted as a disorderly persons offense.

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Harassment is generally defined in New Jersey as behavior or communication that is committed in a manner or with the intent to alarm or seriously annoy another person. It may include “striking, kicking, shoving, or other offensive touching” that does not escalate to become a more serious offense of violence.

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Disorderly conduct

Disorderly conduct can be broadly defined as public acts that are rude, alarming, threatening, or inconvenient to others. Specific acts that amount to disorderly conduct include using offensive language in a public space, making threatening or lewd gestures, and fighting with others, along with any act that could create a hazardous situation for anyone else in the area.

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Lewd behavior

Committing certain lewd or sexual acts, either in public or in private, could lead to a disorderly persons offense. Under New Jersey law, any lewd or offensive act can be a crime if the perpetrator knows or can reasonably be expected to know it will be seen by someone who would take offense to the act. While lewdness is generally a misdemeanor, exposing your genitals to a child younger than 13 or someone with mental disabilities can be charged as an indictable crime.

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Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol can be a disorderly persons offense, depending on the facts of the case. You’re more likely to be charged with a disorderly persons offense instead of an indictable offense if you have no previous history of drunk driving, and you did not injure anyone through your actions. Repeat offenses or injuring someone while you are intoxicated will most likely result in a felony DUI charge.

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Public intoxication

Strictly speaking, public intoxication is not a criminal offense in New Jersey. By law, police must take anyone seen intoxicated in public to their home or a treatment center. However, you could face a disorderly persons offense if you act in a violent, disruptive, or threatening manner while intoxicated in public.

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Possession of a fake ID

To help prevent people under age 21 from drinking, New Jersey law makes it a crime to possess or use any form of fake identification. Using a fake ID may be charged as a disorderly persons offense or indictable crime, depending on the circumstances.

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Underage drinking

Anyone under age 21 can be charged with a disorderly persons offense if they are caught possessing or drinking alcohol in a public space. In addition to fines, jail time, and other penalties, getting caught drinking in a car when you are under age 21 could lead to the suspension of your driving privileges.

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Minor drug offenses

Possession of small amounts of drugs can be charged as a disorderly persons offense. The most common misdemeanor drug offense is possessing less than 50 grams of marijuana.

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Generally, three types of conduct fall under New Jersey’s trespassing laws. The first is entering a building without permission. The second is peering through the windows of a structure without permission, and the third is entering someone’s property when you have been warned to stay off the premises. While these crimes are disorderly persons offenses in most cases, committing any of them on the property of a school can be considered a fourth-degree crime, which is a lower-level felony.

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In New Jersey, vandalism is broadly defined as destroying or defacing someone else’s property. Some acts that can be considered vandalism include spraying graffiti on a building, damaging a mailbox, or breaking windows.

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Stealing less than $200 worth of merchandise from a store is a disorderly persons offense in New Jersey.

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Criminal mischief

Criminal mischief is the crime of damaging someone else’s property, either purposefully or through reckless or negligent actions. It is similar to vandalism, in this sense. However, criminal mischief generally requires someone to use fire, explosives, or similar means to commit the damage. If the cost of the resulting damage is $500 or more, it could be charged as an indictable crime.

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Municipal crimes

A municipal crime is an offense defined by a city or county government instead of state law. Examples of municipal crimes are parking violations, disorderly conduct, noise complaints, and building code violations. These crimes are handled by municipal courts in New Jersey. They typically carry relatively light penalties.