In the State of New Jersey, criminal offenses are divided into 2 general categories- Indictable offenses and disorderly persons. Indictable offenses are graded starting at 1st degree (the most serious), second degree, third degree and fourth degree. Disorderly persons offenses are non-felony offenses, and there is a also petty disorderly persons which is less serious than a disorderly persons. Disorderly persons, as well as fourth degree felony offenses, are heard in the Municipal Courts, while the indictable offenses are heard in Superior Court. The following offenses are disorderly persons offenses, shoplifting, harassment, possession of less than 50 grams of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia.
The maximum fine for a DP or disorderly persons is $1,000. And the maximum jail sentence for a disorderly offenses is 6 months, and possibility of up to six month loss of license. There are ways an attorney can argue for no loss of license. If this is your first time convicted of a disorderly persons offense there is a presumption of non-incarceration. In addition, you may be eligible for a conditional discharge, which is a diversionary program designed to avoid an individual having a criminal record.
Also, a disorderly offense can be expunged within five years of date of conviction, or from last payment of any fines owed, whichever is latter. Even if your matter was resolved with a conditional discharge it is recommended that you get the matter expunged so that it will be completely erased from your record.
It is important that no matter what you arrested for that you retain an experienced New Jersey Criminal Defense Lawyer so that you receive minimum fines and penalties as well as understand the law.