Photo by Edan Cohen on Unsplash

Photo by Edan Cohen on Unsplash

Facing a disorderly persons charge is often upsetting. However, it is important to be clear about what the charge means. In New Jersey, especially, this type of citation encompasses many behaviors. For this reason, it’s imperative that you know your rights. You can start by learning what behaviors are considered illegal under the New Jersey Statute Title 2C.


What is a Disorderly Persons Charge?

Law enforcement hands out disorderly persons charges to individuals that “disturb the peace” in public. In this instance, public implies that your actions are affecting other people. Moreover, a public place refers to any place that the public has access to. For example, in parks, schools, and apartment houses, you can disturb the peace in a number of ways.  In New Jersey, those ways include the following:

  • Fighting: This includes bar fights, street fights, any fight that occurs in a place where the behavior affects other people. Whether under the influence of alcohol or not, fighting can result in a disorderly persons charge.
  • Threatening: Yelling threats or expressing a want to harm another person in public is punishable by law.
  • Violent Behavior: Violent behavior can involve damaging public property, acting aggressive towards other people, and behaving in a way that is disorderly.
  • Creating a Hazardous Condition with No Purpose: If your behavior involves creating a condition that is physically dangerous to others, you can be charged.
  • Offensive Language: This means addressing another person with unreasonably loud and abusive language.
  • Distributing a Controlled Substance: This involves the intention to distribute or obtain a dangerous controlled substance.
  • False Public Alarm: Warning people of a threat that doesn’t exist is a crime. For example, pulling a fire alarm when there actually isn’t a fire can result in a charge of the second, third, or fourth degree.


Types of Disorderly Persons Charge

Within the legal system, a disorderly persons charge is also considered a petty crime, second-degree crime, third-degree crime, or even a fourth-degree crime. A petty crime involves offensive language or creating a public inconvenience. Likewise, a false alarm that warns of a bombing or hostage situation is a second-degree crime. However, a false alarm warning of a fire, explosion, or other emergency situation knowing that there is not an emergency is a third-degree crime. Lastly, if someone places a call to 911 but doesn’t report anything, this is a fourth-degree crime.

It should be clear by the various descriptions above that disorderly persons charges involves many different behaviors and charges. In New Jersey, it is important to understand disorderly persons charges because they are common. Let us clear any questions you have about your rights. If you need assistance with a legal matter, visit us online or contact us at  (732) 204-7387.