Criminal Law Questions? Ask a Criminal Lawyer.
Hello and thank you for your question.Section 2C: 33-2 is the NJ disorderly conduct statute. The maximum penalty under the statute is 30 days in jail and up to a $500.00 fine. This is not the disposition you are likely to receive, especially if this is a first offense. The statute is a "catch-all" provision of the law, used to charge someone when the police feel that behavior is improper but doesn't quite fit under another statute. Sometimes, particularly when the conduct being criticized is arguably just free speech, these cases can be won. Petty disorderly offenses can likely be resolved with pre-trial diversion, which could keep your record clean. Based on the circumstances you describe you may have the grounds to challenge the charge under the particular section you were charged under. To convict a person under Section 2(a)(1) the prosecutor must establish beyond reasonable doubt, that a person had the purpose to cause "public inconvenience, annoyance or alarm" based on their fighting, threatening or engaging in violent or tumultuous conduct. Fighting cannot be the basis for disorderly conduct unless it involves participation of two or more people. The term "threatening" as used in the law contemplates both verbal and physical threats. NJ case law defines "tumultuous behavior" as disorderly and violent movement coupled with agitation and uproar of a crowd or group of people. The law does not support a conviction where an individual is uncooperative or loud and argumentative with police officers; there must also be a risk of public convenience, annoyance, or alarm. It is likely you can avoid any record or serious repercussions on your own. However, it may be wise to consult with an attorney prior to your court appearance. An attorney would be in the best position to advise you with regard to your options based on the unique circumstances of your case. The NJ Bar Association offers referral programs many of which offer an inexpensive half hour conference with a criminal defense lawyer which may be all you need to evaluate your next step. You can find the referral program here http://www.njsba.com/for-the-public/lawyer-referral-service.html Please feel free to ask any follow up questions.
Thank you for the answer.
I feel like the officer really offended me in front of my wife and at the police station - called me an 'asshole' and did not treat me with respect (for instance, the officer kicked my shoes to me at time of discharge), he continuously threatened me ( he threatened me with 10,000 bail, he approached me and assumed a threatening posture) while I stayed calm and obeyed every instruction, I just asked what did I do wrong to be arrested.
He put me in a situation where I started feeling insecure.
Is there a possibility to sue them back/ lodge misconduct - what is possible if I win the case they booked me with?
Thank you for your response.I understand that this incident was an unfortunate experience and that the police seem to have exacerbated rather than diffused the situation with the cab driver. However, the police are given discretion in the field which is necessary given the all the duties they are expected to perform, and the law gives them qualified immunity from civil prosecution when they reasonably exercise that discretion. Also, all the police need for an arrest is probable cause which is a much lower standard than beyond a reasonable doubt required for a conviction. Based on the immunity available to police it is unlikely you would be able to sue the officer in a civil action. However, you could file a complaint with the officer's superior or police chief explaining the offensive and rude actions and comments of the officer that were unnecessary to the discharge of his duties. You don't have to win the case against you in order to report his conduct, as such behavior would not be appropriate in any event. Please let me know if you need any further information.
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