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New Jersey Disorderly Conduct Laws

Under New Jersey law, disorderly conduct is considered a "breach of the peace" and can arise out of many different situations and circumstances. In more general terms, you could be arrested and charged with this offense by engaging in "improper behavior" or "using offensive language."

What is Considered Improper Behavior in New Jersey?

You can be arrested for improper behavior if you purposefully cause a public inconvenience, annoyance or alarm, or recklessly creating a risk of any of the following:

  • Fighting
  • Threatening
  • Committing violent or tumultuous behavior
  • Creating a hazardous or physically dangerous condition which serves no legitimate purpose

For example, getting into a barrrom brawl can be considered "improper behavior," among other possible crimes.

Offensive Language

What is offensive language? It's words used to offend people within hearing distance in a reckless disregard for them. Typically, offensive language is loud, coarse, or abusive. Let's say you are at a Phillies game and start heckling New YorK Mets fans. It's possible you could be in violation of the law.

The following table highlights the main provisions of New Jersey's disorderly conduct laws. See Disturbing the Peace, Public Intoxication, and Public Safety Violations for more information.

Code Sections

Disorderly Conduct: N.J.S.A. 2C:33-2

What is Prohibited

You may be charged with disorderly conduct using improper behavior if you act to cause inconvenience, annoyance, or alarm by:

  • Engaging in fighting, threatening, or violent and tumultuous behavior, or
    creating a dangerous condition that serves no legitimate purpose;
  • Offensive language when it is used to offend people within hearing distance in a reckless disregard for them.
Penalties

Up to six (6) months in jail and fines. Possible restitution to the victim.

What is a public place?

"Public" means affecting or likely to affect persons in a place to which the 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 including concert halls or a sports stadiums.

Statute of Limitations

One (1) year from the date of the offense.

Note: State laws are subject to change at any time, usually through the enactment of new statutes but sometimes through court decisions and other means. Make sure you talk to an attorney or conduct your own research to verify the law.

Because New Jersey's criminal laws can sometimes get complicated, particularly surrounding the right to free speech under the First Amendment, it may also be a good idea to consult an experienced New Jersey criminal defense attorney if you have questions about your specific situation.

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