There’s no one behavior that causes a disorderly conduct charge. As a matter of fact, many people are surprised when they are arrested and accused of this criminal offense. Unfortunately, ignorance of the law is not a viable defense. However, the charge isn’t the end of the road—you do have options.
In New Jersey, disorderly conduct laws are quite broad. Not only can they apply to many situations, they can apply to behaviors that most people wouldn’t normally consider criminal, just disruptive. This is precisely why so many people are charged with this offense, because it’s so broad and also open to interpretation.
New Jersey Disorderly Conduct Laws
Under New Jersey law, disorderly conduct is defined in one of two ways—as an “improper behavior” or as “offensive language.”
Improper behavior is the term used to describe the act of causing alarm, annoyance, or inconvenience by doing one of two things:
- Fighting, threatening, or engaging in violent or tumultuous behavior, or
- Creating a dangerous condition that serves no legitimate purpose.
Offensive language refers to using language that could be offensive to some people, within hearing distance with reckless disregard for them. This could include cursing, abusive, or otherwise coarse language.
If you are found guilty of a New Jersey disorderly conduct charge, you’ll face up to 6 months in jail.
It’s easy to see how these charges could be levied against someone for simply being mouthy or even for aggravating a police officer. Fortunately, many cases of disorderly conduct are eventually dropped because the evidence for a conviction simply isn’t there.
Even if there is evidence that you broke the law, there are options available to you. In most cases of disorderly conduct, probation is ordered in lieu of jail time. This is especially true when you have an otherwise clean criminal record. Probation may have you checking in regularly with an officer, submitting to random drug tests, and maintaining employment.
Understanding all of your options and what can be done to minimize the impact of these charges on your life is something to discuss with a local defense lawyer. An experienced advocate within the criminal courts, a criminal defense attorney’s job is to ensure the best results possible for their clients.