What is a “Disorderly Persons Offense” in New Jersey?
Posted by Scott Gorman - September 29, 2023

For many people, their first brush with the law involves being charged with a “disorderly persons offense.” Several crimes are classified as disorderly persons offenses under New Jersey law, and these crimes are considered less serious than “indictable offenses,” which are comparable to felonies in other states.

To be clear, a disorderly persons offense is not the same thing as disorderly conduct. In New Jersey, disorderly conduct is one of several disorderly persons offenses (technically, it is a “petty disorderly persons offense,” which Morristown criminal attorney Scott Gorman explains below). While there are some important differences, you can roughly think of a disorderly persons offense as being the equivalent of a misdemeanor in jurisdictions outside of New Jersey—it is a class of crimes rather than a specific prosecutable offense.

Disorderly Persons Offenses vs. Petty Disorderly Persons Offenses

In New Jersey, disorderly persons offenses are broken down into two categories: (i) disorderly persons offenses and (ii) petty disorderly persons offenses. Disorderly persons offenses are the more serious of the two categories. They carry greater penalties, and they can have greater long-term consequences:

  • Penalties for Disorderly Persons Offenses – Up to a $1,000 fine and six months in jail.
  • Penalties for Petty Disorderly Persons Offenses – Up to a $500 fine and 30 days in jail.

Many people are surprised to learn that even the least-serious offenses in New Jersey still carry the possibility of jail time. But this is in fact the case. While it will be possible to avoid jail time in many cases, doing so requires a strategic defense and the representation of an experienced Morristown criminal attorney.

Examples of Disorderly Persons Offenses in New Jersey

What crimes are classified as disorderly persons offenses in New Jersey? The list is extremely long. With this in mind, the following are just some of the most common examples:

Disorderly Persons Offenses

  • Lewdness
  • Property theft of less than $200
  • Resisting arrest
  • Shoplifting of less than $200
  • Simple assault

Petty Disorderly Persons Offenses

  • Disorderly conduct
  • Harassment
  • Improper behavior
  • Offensive language
  • Trespass

What about driving under the influence (DUI)? You may have noticed that DUI is not on either of these lists—even though it is among the most common offenses prosecuted in New Jersey. This is because DUI is not a disorderly persons offense. It also isn’t an indictable crime. Instead, DUI is classified as a traffic offense under New Jersey law. But this does not mean that the consequences are any less serious. DUI charges carry fines, jail time and other penalties, and avoiding unnecessary consequences requires experienced legal representation.

Discuss Your Case with Morristown Criminal Attorney Scott Gorman for Free

Whether you have been charged with a disorderly persons offense, DUI or an indictable crime in New Jersey, it is important to put experience on your side. Morristown criminal attorney Scott Gorman has been representing clients in New Jersey’s court system for more than 15 years. To discuss your case with Scott in confidence, call 973-796-3800 or request a free consultation online today.

Published in Categories: Criminal Defense