Ridgewood teacher pleads guilty to disorderly conduct after shoplifting charge at Whole Foods
Arrested, Charged with Shoplifting Ridgewood NJ
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A Ridgewood middle school teacher was charged with shoplifting in October after allegedly leaving Whole Foods supermarket without paying for $75 in groceries. According to the Ridgewood Patch and NJ.com, the 47-year-old defendant plead guilty to a downgraded charge of disorderly conduct, a petty disorderly persons offense, and was sentenced to a $1,000.00 fine and 30 days community service. The defendant is a 7th grade spanish teacher at George Washington Middle School.
There are several reasons that a plea to disorderly conduct is better for the defendant than a plea to shoplifting. First, disorderly conduct is a petty disorderly persons offense while shoplifting is a disorderly persons offense so the defendant is convicted of a lesser charge. A disorderly persons offense includes a maximum of six (6) months in the county jail while a petty disorderly persons offense includes only a maximum of ninety (90) days in the county jail. Further, disorderly conduct looks a lot better on his record than shoplifting. Finally, shoplifting is considered a “crime of moral terpitude” and can cause immigration issues if the defendant is not a citizen. Disorderly conduct, on the other hand, is not and should not cause issues depending on the defendant’s immigration status.
A criminal charge for disorderly conduct in New Jersey is governed by N.J.S. 2C:33-2 which provides in pertinent part:
§ 2C:33-2. Disorderly Conduct
a. Improper behavior. A person is guilty of a petty disorderly persons offense, if with purpose to cause public inconvenience, annoyance or alarm, or recklessly creating a risk thereof he
(1) Engages in fighting or threatening, or in violent or tumultuous behavior; or
(2) Creates a hazardous or physically dangerous condition by any act which serves no legitimate purpose of the actor.
b. Offensive language. A person is guilty of a petty disorderly persons offense if, in a public place, and with purpose to offend the sensibilities of a hearer or in reckless disregard of the probability of so doing, he addresses unreasonably loud and offensively coarse or abusive language, given the circumstances of the person present and the setting of the utterance, to any person present.
So, a petty disorderly persons conviction for disorderly conduct is the lowest level criminal offense we have in New Jersey. In addition, if the defendant has no prior criminal convictions, he or she will be able to expunge this charge after 3-5 years from their record.
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