An individual is guilty of disorderly conduct in New Jersey if they have been found to be behaving improperly in a public place. This includes behavior such as creating danger (throwing glass bottles), physical fighting, and violent threats.
However, an individual can also be found guilty of disorderly conduct for specific language under state law. Words, such as those that are offensive, abusive, harassing, or racial slurs are also included. Police officers have a lot of discretion when it comes to arresting individuals for disorderly conduct so long as they have specific behaviors that they can refer to.
Doesn’t Free Speech Protect My Words?
But what is the difference between language constituting disorderly conduct, and freedom of speech? It is important to note that even though we enjoy free speech, that freedom is not an absolute one. The First Amendment does not protect threatening language and hate speech. When an individual has been convicted of disorderly conduct, they may be fined and may be required to serve up to 30 days in jail.
Fines and jail time are no easy punishment. So what can you do if you have been charged by mistake? As much as we would like to believe that our police officers treat everyone equally, many of them have their own perceived biases, such as judging individuals by the way that they dress, their religion, and their race. Because of these preconceived beliefs, individuals who may not have partaken in any disorderly conduct may find themselves grouped in with those who engaged – simply for being in close proximity at the time.
Accepting a Plea Deal
It is often expected that the individuals who have been charged with disorderly conduct will simply accept a plea deal so that they can quickly move forward. However, this is not the right solution for individuals who have not engaged in the behavior with which they are charged.
Though disorderly conduct is considered a petty crime, pleading guilty of such behavior will go on your record and you may not be able to remove it for five years. In the meantime, it can have great effects on your life. That is why it is so important that you consult with a knowledgeable and experienced criminal attorney whenever you have been charged with a crime.
The Law Office of Michele Alcalde Helps Those Who Have Been Charged with a Disorderly Persons Offense
If you or a loved one has been charged with disorderly conduct or another crime – even those that are minor – you should contact a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.
At the Law Office of Michele Alcalde, we know how serious the consequences of a disorderly conviction can be and will fight for you as we have for many clients charged with disorderly conduct throughout the state of New Jersey. To learn more or to schedule a consultation, visit us online or call us at 732-766-1407 today!
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