“What is a Petty Disorderly Persons Offense In New Jersey?

Petty DP Charge Defense Lawyers in Clifton, Wayne, Elizabeth NJ

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Petty Disorderly Persons Offense in NJ

Petty Disorderly Persons

A petty disorderly persons offense is considered to be the lowest level of criminal charge in New Jersey.  That said, it’s still a criminal charge and you will be arrested if charged with this type of crime.  If convicted of a NJ Petty Disorderly Persons offense, you will technically have a permanent criminal record, and this will have to be disclosed on job and housing applications.  If you are convicted of a petty disorderly persons offense in NJ, you are subject to the following:

  • A permanent criminal charge on your record (subject to potential expungement)
  • A $500 fine
  • Up to 30 days in the county jail
  • Probation

Some of the most common petty disorderly persons offenses in New Jersey are harassment and disorderly conduct. These cases will be prosecuted in the local Municipal Court in which you are charged. They will be prosecuted by the Municipal Prosecutor who represents the State of NJ in these court proceedings. Your case will be decided by a Municipal Court Judge (not a jury).

Discovery Evidence Exchanged – Proof Beyond a Reasonable Doubt

You will be provided discovery (evidence) by the local police department or NJ state police (whoever made the arrest and issued the charges). The discovery evidence usually includes police reports, witness statements, videos, pictures of injuries or damage to property, bodycam footage, etc. Once the evidence is provided, the case will be scheduled for a court date for a conference to see if the case can be resolved before trial.

Municipal Court Case Conference – Can A Plea Agreement or Plea Bargain be Reached?

At the conference, the Municipal Prosecutor may offer you a plea bargain – downgrade to another charge or plea to this charge with minimum penalties or they may even agree to dismiss the charge if you do counseling, pay restitution, etc. If the case is resolved by way of plea bargain, then the plea is placed on the record with the Judge and the case is over. You pay your fines, do your community service, comply with probation or whatever terms were associated with your plea agreement.

No Plea Bargain? Case Proceeds to Trial Before the Municipal Judge

If the case is not settled by way of a plea bargain, then the case will proceed to trial in court before the Judge. The State has the burden of proof – beyond a reasonable doubt – and goes first. They will call the police officer to testify and any other witnesses they have. They will admit relevant evidence such as pictures, text messages, videos, etc. in an attempt to prove the charges against you. Your attorney will have an opportunity to cross examine their witnesses and challenge their evidence. You also can testify (if you wish) and produce your own evidence – but you have no obligation to do so.

Once the case is over, the Judge will render a decision. If the State fails to meet their burden, the case is dismissed. If the State proves the charges beyond a reasonable doubt, you will be convicted by the Judge and then sentenced.

Expunge a Petty Disorderly Persons Offense from My Record

If you had a petty disorderly persons offense and the case was dismissed, you can have the arrest immediately expunged from your background. However, if you plead to a downgraded municipal ordinance (also known as town ordinance or borough ordinance), then you have to wait two (2) years before expunging the arrest from your record (you have no criminal record because you plead guilty to a non-criminal offense). Finally, if you were convicted or plead guilty to a petty disorderly persons offense, you can expunge this off of your record in five (5) years depending on what else you have on your record. In addition, in some cases you can apply to have it expunged from your record in three (3) years if you can show good cause.

Defense Strategies to Fight Petty Disorderly Persons Charges in Court in NJ

We strongly recommend that you check out our defense strategies for this charge type, and our top 5 ways to beat any criminal charge series.

How To Beat Disorderly Conduct Charges In NJ – Part #1.

How To Fight Disorderly Conduct Charges In NJ – Part #2.

Top 5 Ways To Beat Any Criminal Charge

Disorderly Conduct In NJ – Information Regarding Penalties and Defense

Disorderly Persons Offenses In NJ – Information Regarding Penalties and Defense

Petty Disorderly Persons Offenses In New Jersey

Our Written Page On Disorderly Conduct

Our Written Page On Disorderly Persons


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Learn More About How to Fight Your Charges

If you've been charged with a criminal offense, disorderly persons offense, or traffic / DWI violation, you have the right to an attorney who will defend you against your charges and fight for your best interests. To learn more about how your attorney can fight to have your charges dismissed or reduced, click a link below to see our video library of legal defenses and strategies.

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