I was Charged With a Disorderly Persons Offense. What Does That Mean?
You were caught with a small amount of drugs in your possession. You were arrested by the police and taken to jail. At your arraignment, you learn that you are being charged with a disorderly persons offense. You’ve never heard that term before. What does it mean? Is it really serious? Should you be worried?
In New Jersey, crimes are divided into two categories: a disorderly persons offense (or a petty disorderly persons offense) or an indictable crimes offense. A disorderly persons offense is considered a misdemeanor in many other states. It’s not as serious as an indictable crime and is not even considered a crime. These cases are handled by the Municipal Court system and you are not entitled to a jury trial.
Depending on the severity of your crime, you can be charged with either a petty or a regular disorderly persons offense. For example, if you were arrested for writing a bad check, this may be considered a petty disorderly persons offense. Some of the more serious offenses include:
- Property theft for less than $200 in damages or loss
- Criminal mischief for less than $200 in damages or loss
- Simple assault
- Shoplifting of an item that is less than $200
- Possession of less than 50 grams of marijuana
Although these offenses are not nearly as serious as an indictable crimes offense, they do come with a serious punishment. The typical sentence for a more serious offense is a stiff fine of up to $1,000 and six months in jail. You may also have to do community service, pay court costs and other types of fines. In addition, the court could give you probation and may even suspend or revoke your driver’s license for up to two years.
It’s also important to note that although these offenses are not considered crimes, it will still go on your criminal record. This means you could have trouble with getting a job, getting a loan, or, if you’re an immigrant, have issues getting a green card. However, you will be able to clear the offense from your record within five years.
There are ways to downgrade this offense to a municipal ordinance violation. But you’re going to need an experienced criminal defense attorney to help you. If you have been charged with a disorderly persons offense in Jersey City, we’re here to help. Contact the Law Offices of Anthony Carbone today for a free consultation.