Criminal Defense

criminal defense in njIf you have been charged with a crime or disorderly persons offense in, it is essential that you have legal representation. The repercussions of conviction may include fines, penalties, probation, jail-time, a criminal record and other negative consequences. A criminal record can also effect your ability to get a job or join the military.

Joseph F. Morgano handles criminal cases in the NJ Superior Courts and Municipal Courts, including: drug charges; shoplifting charges; assault charges; probation violation; and other types of criminal cases.

Is your case serious?  My opinion is that all criminal charges are serious, even if you are not facing jail-time.  The seriousness of your charges is something you will discuss with your attorney, however, the following is a breakdown of how the NJ criminal system classifies criminal offenses.


Crimes are classified as first, second, third or fourth degree, and are handled in the Superior Court (County Court) of New Jersey. (NJ does not use the classification of "felony", however, a "crime" is the equivalent of a "felony").

Disorderly Persons Offense (DP)

Disorderly Persons Offenses are not considered "crimes" in NJ, however, they are considered to be criminal charges.  Disorderly persons offenses are handled in the NJ Municipal Courts. (NJ does not use the classification of "misdemeanor", however, a "disorderly persons offense" is the equivalent of a "misdemeanor").

Petti Disorderly Persons Offense (PDP)

Petti Disorderly Persons offenses are the same as above but are not as serious. Petti disorderly persons offenses are handled in the NJ Municipal Courts.

Borough Ordinance Violation

Borough Ordinance Violations are the least serious and are handled in the NJ Municipal Courts. An example of a Borough Ordinance would be where a municipality has prohibited playing loud music at your home after a certain time of the day.  If you violate a borough ordinance, the sentence will usually be a fine.


First Degree10 to 20 years in prison;

Second Degree5 to 10 years in prison;

Third Degree3 to 5 years in prison;

Fourth DegreeUp to 18 months in prison;

Disorderly Persons OffenseUp to 6 months in jail; and

Petti-Disorderly Persons OffenseUp to 30 days in jail.

If you have a criminal matter you would like to discuss, please call for an appointment.