The grade of criminal charge typically heard in municipal court is referred to as disorderly persons offense. This variety of violation is essentially a misdemeanor although there are serious consequences that can result from a conviction. Most importantly, you will have a 2C record that will show up on a criminal background check if the charge is not dismissed or downgraded. This fact makes it that much more important that you retain the right attorney to defend you. At our firm, we have at least four (4) former prosecutors, including ones from Essex County, and a team that has handled literally thousands of disorderly persons offenses. This high level of experience may be the main reason why we are able to avoid a conviction in an overwhelming portion of these offenses.

What Is a Disorderly Persons Offense?

A disorderly persons offense is categorized as an “offense” as opposed to a crime. The reason for the use of this terminology is because New Jersey law does not utilize the classic terms of felony and misdemeanor. Instead, felonies are first, second, third and fourth degree crimes, and misdemeanors are offenses, namely, disorderly persons offenses. Since this category of violation is not considered a “crime” under NJ law, there is no entitlement to a jury trial thereby explaining why disorderly persons offenses are typically decided by a municipal court judge.

Is There A Criminal Record If I Am Convicted?

The Criminal Code is contained in Title 2C of New Jersey Law. A conviction to a disorderly persons offense, for example, shoplifting, lewdness or harassment, will appear on a 2C background check. So the answer is that while a disorderly persons offense technically is not crime, an individual will have a record if they are convicted. Conversely, if the charge is downgraded to an ordinance or dismissed, there is no 2C record to be found.

How Quickly Can I Clear My Record If I Plead or Am Found Guilty of a Disorderly Persons Offense?

A conviction will remain on your record for at least five (5) years from the date of completion of probation and payment of all fines, assessments and restitution. An individual apply to expunge the record of conviction once the five (5) year waiting period has expired.

What Penalties Can Be Imposed For A Disorderly Persons Offense?

The penalties that may be imposed include fines, jail, probation, drivers license suspension, drug/alcohol treatment, and other monetary assessments. The maximum fine is $1,000. A county jail term of up six (6) months also applies. There are mandatory monetary assessments that much be imposed by the court, in addition to a fine. In this regard, a defendant must pay $75 for the Safe Neighborhood Fund, $50 for the Victims of Crime Compensation Board, $33 in court costs, and a $500 Drug Enforcement and Demand Reduction Penalty in the case of most drug related disorderly persons offenses.

Is There A Way To Avoid Prosecution?

The conditional discharge program may be utilized to avoid prosecution for a disorderly persons offense. The program is available to individuals who have never utilized a diversion program previously (e.g. conditional discharge or pretrial intervention). The program requires an individual to be placed on probation for a one year period and, provided they remain drug free and do not commit any new violations during the conditional discharge period, the offense is dismissed.

Are you facing a disorderly persons offense in Essex County? Our firm, the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall, representing those charged with offenses like possession of less than 50 grams of marijuana, disorderly conduct, simple assault, harassment, and shoplifting in the following towns:

Our highly skilled defense attorneys know how to avoid a conviction and will ensure you have the best opportunity for a positive outcome. Call us at 973-710-1520 for a free consultation.