The state designates lower level crimes as disorderly persons offenses. While the charge is not on par with the severity of a felony, a conviction can still carry harsh penalties, such as jail time and heavy fines. A disorderly persons offense means that you can be tried without facing a jury. If you are indicted, you must first be tried after a preliminary hearing to determine whether there is a prima facie case to answer or by a grand jury.
The following are examples of disorderly persons offenses in New Jersey:
- Simple assault.
- Possession of less than 50 grams of marijuana.
- Drug paraphernalia.
- Less than $200 in shoplifting.
- Disorderly conduct.
- Resisting arrest.
- Writing bad checks.
Penalties of Disorderly Persons Offenses
Offenses punishable by less than six months imprisonment fall under the classification of disorderly persons offenses in New Jersey. Disorderly persons offenses can lead to up to six months of jail time and a $1,000 fine. Petty disorderly persons offenses can lead to 30 days of jail time and a $500 fine.
Since disorderly persons offenses are not considered crimes in the state, a defendant does not have a right to a jury trial. However, the defendant can still lawyer up and a court must assign counsel if the defendant cannot afford one and the judge determines whether there should be jail time, a fine, or both upon conviction.
Expungement of a Disorderly Persons Offense
If you have been convicted of a disorderly persons offense, you may seek expungement five years after the conviction or the conclusion of probation and payment of fines, whichever is later. Eligibility to have a disorderly persons offense expunged is restricted to individuals with no more than three convictions.
How Can a Lawyer Help?
Most individuals believe that if they face a minor offense then they do not need to seek legal counsel because they will be facing a short stay in jail or a small fine. However, even if you do not go to jail for a conviction for a disorderly persons offense, you still face the possibility that it will appear in background searches, which could hinder your ability to find employment.
The prosecution is not on your side and will try to exploit your lack of legal knowledge. You face the possibility of being convicted of a crime you did not commit, along with possible time in jail, a substantial fine, or both.
A skilled criminal defense lawyer can help you. A lawyer will demand that you are treated fairly and will protect your rights. They will help you get the best possible outcome.
South Jersey Criminal Defense Lawyers at Agre & St. John Can Help You With Your Disorderly Persons Offense
If you are being prosecuted on a disorderly persons offense charge, do not fight the judicial system alone. Our South Jersey criminal defense lawyers at Agre & St. John can help. Call us at 856-428-7797 or fill out our online form for an initial consultation today. Located in Haddonfield, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout South Jersey, including Burlington County, Camden County, Gloucester County, and Salem County.