Disorderly Conduct Vs Free Speech
You can be arrested for disorderly conduct in New Jersey if you behaved improperly in a public place. Generally, the police have a lot of discretion in arresting decisions. They can charge you with disorderly conduct as long as there is a specific behavior to which they can refer. Commonly cited offences include physical altercations, creating danger, and making violent threats.
An individual could also be charged with disorderly conduct under state law over using specific language. Usually, this includes words that are abusive, offensive, harassing, or racist. The situation raises the disorderly conduct vs free speech debate.
A disorderly conduct charge can carry severe repercussions. If you have been arrested for any of these offenses, enlist the help of an expert New Jersey Criminal Defense Lawyer.
Disorderly Conduct Offense Under New Jersey Law
In New Jersey, disorderly conduct law covers two categories of acts done in public. These are improper behavior and offensive language. The term public is described as a place to which a substantial group of people have access such as transport facilitates, apartments, neighborhoods, and schools.
People accused of disorderly conduct can be filed for:
- Improper Behavior – This includes engaging in violent behavior, fighting, making threats. It also addresses causing purposeful and reckless public annoyance, alarm, or inconvenience or creating a physically dangerous condition through an act of no legitimate purpose.
- Offensive Language – Based on the circumstances of the individual present and the act’s setting. Generally, it addresses unreasonably loud, offensive, abusive, or coarse language used purposefully to offend those who hear it or recklessly without regard for the hearer.
If found guilty of any of these offenses, you could face up to 6 months in jail and a $1,000 fine. You will also have to pay $50 and $75 to the Victims of Crime Compensation Board (VCCB) and Safe Neighborhood Services Fund and $33 in court costs.
Free Speech Protection
The question of disorderly conduct vs free speech is a common concern among those charged with disorderly conduct. Some people argue that their words, even when offensive, are protected by freedom of speech. While this is partly true, this freedom is not absolute.
The first amendment protects the right of people to speak freely in public. However, it does not protect hate speech or the use of threatening language. This means you can be jailed and fined for what a police officer construes as offensive language.
That said, it is not uncommon for people to be charged by mistake. The police can sometimes hold perceived bias and judge individuals on unfair bases such as clothing, religion, or race. When this happens, you should consult a New Jersey Criminal Defense Lawyer immediately.
Talk to a New Jersey Criminal Defense Lawyer Today
Most people expect a slap on the wrist for disorderly conduct charges. However, even the most minor ones, can have serious consequences. At the Law Office of Matthew V. Portella, LLC, we understand how such a record could affect your life, family, and career. We provide elite defense services for our clients.
If you or a loved one has been charged with disorderly conduct, please contact our offices to schedule a consultation with our New Jersey Criminal Defense Lawyer.
We are also available to answer any questions you might have about disorderly conduct vs free speech.