In New Jersey, a disorderly persons offense has the same meaning as a misdemeanor in other states. It differs from an indictable offense, often called a felony in other states, in that with a disorderly persons offense, the charges are heard in one of New Jersey’s municipal courts as opposed to being brought before a grand jury by the prosecutor seeking an indictment.
Disorderly persons charges can stem from a number of activities such as improper behavior, creating a public disturbance, harassment, a fight, cursing in a public place, public lewdness, being caught carrying a small amount of marijuana, shoplifting less that $200 worth of items and other lower-level offenses not worthy of an indictment, but is still serious enough to warrant punishment.
Indictable offenses are much more serious in New Jersey and, if convicted, the person will face substantial fines and jail time. For a disorderly persons charge—especially a petty disorderly persons charge—the ramifications are far less severe.
Fines for Petty Disorderly Persons Charges
Petty disorderly persons offenses are graded even less than disorderly persons offenses. Disorderly persons charges and petty disorderly persons charges differ in that they have significantly different penalties for a conviction. If the charge is a disorderly persons offense, the defendant faces as much as six months in jail and fines that can reach as high as $1,000.
In the event the charge is a petty disorderly persons offense, the person will have to pay up to $500 in fines and will be subject to a maximum of 30 days in jail with the same fines as would be paid for a disorderly persons charge.
The charge of a petty disorderly persons offense or disorderly persons offense hinges on the severity of the act. Technically, under New Jersey law, these are not considered “crimes”, but instead they are “petty offenses”, although a conviction for either type of disorderly persons charge will still appear on one’s criminal record until it is expunged. Someone with a disorderly persons or petty disorderly persons offense on their record can get the record expunged by application five years after the conviction. The expungement option is only available if the person doesn’t have more than three disorderly persons convictions on his or her record.
Contact an Attorney to Discuss a Petty Disorderly Persons Charge
If you have been charged with a petty disorderly persons violation in Monmouth County or Ocean County, New Jersey, having legal representation is paramount. The law firm of Villani & DeLuca in Point Pleasant Beach, New Jersey can assist you with your case. A petty disorderly persons charge may not sound as if it’s that serious, but the fact is that you will still have a criminal record and that criminal record will show up on background checks if you are trying to get into the military or obtain a job.
Speak to a lawyer at Villani & DeLuca today to get advice and legal assistance to deal with the charges you are facing. The criminal defense attorneys at our office provide free consultations, so call today!