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Are There Deportation Consequences to 2C:33-2 New Jersey Disorderly Conduct?

On Behalf of | May 29, 2014 | Criminal Law & Municipal Court, Deportation, Immigration Consequences of Crimes |

Considered something of a “catch-all” because it covers such a broad range of unlawful conduct, Disorderly Conduct is one of the most frequently charged criminal offenses in New Jersey. It is usually lodged as an original offense or in many cases, offered as a downgrade or amendment to a more serious criminal offense. N.J.S.A. 2C:33-2 defines the crime as follows (as of 2014):

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.

“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.

Disorderly Conduct is defined as a disorderly persons offense. According to 2C:43-8, “a person who has been convicted of a disorderly persons or a petty disorderly persons offense may be sentenced to imprisonment for a definite term which shall be fixed by the court and shall not exceed 6 months in the case of a disorderly persons offense or 30 days in the case of a petty disorderly persons offense.”

Are There Immigration Consequences?

Disorderly Conduct has generally been held not to be a deportable offense. That is not to say that it does not have any immigration impact: it is, after all, still a criminal offense. Moreover, practically speaking, when a foreign national individual runs afoul of the law, even in the case of a minor offense, he or she risks exposure to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”), especially if he/she is jailed.

Relatively speaking though, it appears to be one of the more benign types of criminal violations that don’t necessarily trigger deportation. In terms of deportability and inadmissibility, the Department of Homeland Security ordinarily tries to classify a crime as either a Crime Involving Moral Turpitude or an Aggravated Felony to underpin a charge of removability. New Jersey Disorderly Conduct is not an Aggravated Felony in New Jersey because the maximum possible sentence that can be imposed is 6 months. Furthermore, it has generally been held not to constitute a Crime Involving Moral Turpitude (A crime involving moral turpitude is generally defined as “act of baseness, vileness, or depravity in the private and social duties which a man owes to his fellowmen, or to society in general, contrary to the accepted and customary rule of right and duty between man and man.”) Any foreign national individual charged with a serious indictable or non-indictable offense in New Jersey may want to consider exploring with his/her criminal defense attorney in conjunction with an immigration attorney whether Disorderly Conduct is an option as a downgrade or amendment. There may be less of an immigration impact engendered by this charge.

Of course, it must emphasized that this should not be construed as legal advice. Any person charged with a criminal violation who is not a United States Citizen should not be making decisions about whether to accept a plea or plead guilty without first consulting with an immigration attorney to conduct a comprehensive evaluation of the impact of such charges. Every individual has different circumstances that apply to his/her case, and one cannot base such an important decision on what one reads on the internet or what has happened to his/her friend. Especially when it comes to determining the potential impact of a guilty plea to a criminal offense, an immigration attorney must thoroughly compare the New Jersey statute to the federal standard as well as survey how the statute has been interpreted in the case law. Additionally, the immigration attorney will ordinarily need to analyze the discovery packet requested by the criminal defense attorney.

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