NJ Disorderly Conduct Law

NJ Disorderly Conduct Law

2C:33-2. Disorderly Conduct.

a. Improper Behavior. A person is guilty of a petty disorderly persons offense, if with the purpose to cause public inconvenience, annoyance or alarm, or recklessly creating a risk thereof he/she

  • Engages in fighting or threatening, or in violent or tumultuous behavior; or
  • Creates a hazardous or physically dangerous condition by any act which serves no legitimate purpose of the actor.

What the NJ Disorderly Conduct case law says: In order to successfully convict and accuse one of disorderly conduct the State must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant caused public inconvenience, public annoyance or public alarm, or a reckless risk thereof, by fighting, threatening, violent or tumultuous conduct, or by creating a hazardous or physically dangerous condition by an act serving no legitimate purpose of the actor. See State v. Stampone, 341 N.J. Super. 247, 255 (App. Div. 2001).

b. Offensive Language. A person is guilty of a petty disorderly persons offense if, in a public place, and with the purpose to offend the sensibilities of a hearer or in reckless disregard of the probability of so doing, he/she addresses unreasonably loud and offensively course or abusive language, given the circumstances of the person present and the setting of the utterance, to any person present. “Public” means affecting or likely to affect persons in a place to which public or a substantial group has access; among the places included are highways, transport facilities, schools, prisons, apartment houses, places of business or amusement, or any neighborhood.

What the NJ Disorderly Conduct case law says: For speech to rise to the level of disorderly conduct and for the conviction to be constitutional, the language must have been spoken in a public place and probable to invite the listener to an immediate breach of the peace. When the language is directed specifically at another individual, and it is of such a nature and spoken under such circumstances as is likely to result in an immediate breach of the peace, it may be constitutionally outlawed. See State v. Brown , 62 N.J. 588, 591 (1973). The words must be spoken in “public” where a significant group can hear them. Many of times the police include charges for Disorderly Conduct against an individual for offensive language, stating in the complaint that the defendant was verbally abusive, however, this type of language does not rise to the level of Disorderly Conduct and our legal defense lawyers will be quick to pick up on this faulty type of police activity.

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