Petty Offenses

Attorney for Petty Offenses

Though the name “petty offense” may automatically cause someone to shrug off this type of charge, these charges can often result in serious penalties in New Jersey. A petty offense refers to a petty disorderly persons offense, which is the lowest level of criminal allegations in NJ. These cases are heard in municipal court and defendants must follow the strict rules and procedures of these courts. Even the municipal courts have the power to sentence offenders to extensive fines and jail time, so these cases should be taken seriously.

Trying to handle your case on your own can result in significantly more serious penalties than if you have a highly experienced criminal defense attorney by your side. If you plead guilty, you will likely plead guilty to harsher penalties than you would if you had a lawyer who knows how to negotiate with prosecutors. If you try to defend yourself at trial, you likely are not aware of all the possible legal defenses available to you or how to bring these defenses up in court. At the Law Offices of Daniel R. Danzi, we provide the highest quality of assistance possible in every case. Simply because a charge is deemed “petty” does not mean we are not fully committed to your best interests. We treat our clients like family and will work to ensure you receive the most favorable outcome possible in your petty offense case.

Petty Offenses

Types of Petty Offenses in NJ

New Jersey law specifically states what may constitute a petty disorderly persons offense. The prosecutor must prove that you engaged in one of the following:

  • Improper behavior – This can include threatening or fighting, engaging in otherwise “tumultuous” behavior, or creating a dangerous hazard or condition that has no legitimate purpose and, as a result, you intentionally or recklessly caused annoyance, inconvenience, or alarm to the public.
  • Offensive language – This includes being in a public place and intentionally or recklessly use offensive, abusive, and unreasonably loud language to another person.

Under the law, the most common petty offenses are disorderly conduct and harassment.

Penalties and Defenses for Petty Crimes

If you are convicted of a petty disorderly persons offense in New Jersey, you can face up to 30 days in jail, a $500 fine, and/or probation. Probation can have strict terms including random drug or alcohol testing, paying fees, check-ins with probation officials, and other costly or inconvenient requirements.

While a court-imposed sentence can have an effect on your freedom and finances, this type of case can have longer-lasting effects, as well. A conviction for a petty offense will go on your permanent criminal record and you may find your options limited by this conviction. For example, many employers do not want to hire individuals with any criminal convictions—needless to say, one for disorderly conduct or harassment. This type of conviction may concern a prospective employer that you may be disruptive or offensive in the workplace. In addition, educational institutions may use the conviction to question whether they want you at their school. It may also be increasingly difficult to obtain certain professional licenses. So, while an offense may be referred to as “petty,” the consequences of a conviction are anything but that.

Many terms used in New Jersey law describing petty offenses are subject to interpretation. For example, what one person may consider “offensive,” another may not. A skilled defense attorney will explore any possible way to use this subjectivity to defend against your charges. In addition, a lawyer with experience in municipal court will know how to discuss your case with the prosecutor and have your charge amended to a lesser charge as part of a plea deal. In this type of situation, the consequences that come with a disorderly conduct conviction on your record will not be a concern. These are only a few of the many reasons why it is highly important to have an experienced attorney on your side if you are charged with a petty offense.

Consult with a NJ Petty Offense Defense Attorney as Soon as Possible

Daniel R. Danzi has been practicing law in New Jersey for over 25 years and has experience as a prosecutor, a military criminal attorney (Judge Advocate General), and a criminal defense attorney. This wide array of experience allows our legal team to take a unique and skilled approach to defend against allegations in each and every case. We will provide committed, caring representation without judgment and can begin working on your case right away. Please contact our office for a consultation today.