I was charged with a violation of 2C:33-15 and he was charged with violating a town ordinance. Why the difference and does it matter in terms of the penalties we each face or having a criminal record if convicted?
There are noticeable differences between being charged with 2C;33-15 and a “town ordinance” for the same conduct. 2C:33-15 prohibits possession and/or use of alcohol by someone under the legal age to do so.
It is a disorderly persons offense which is also defined as a criminal offense. If convicted, the individual will have a criminal record.
A “town ordinance” is more correctly referred to as a municipal ordinance. This is not a criminal offense. A person convicted of a municipal ordinance does not have a criminal record.
Therefore, the practical differences between being convicted of 2C:33-15 and its counterpart municipal ordinance are huge. Indeed, a person charged with underage drinking wants the municipal prosecutor to downgrade his criminal offense charge to that of a municipal ordinance. This occurs routinely in New Jersey’s municipal courts. To reiterate, the municipal ordinance is the much preferred result.
Even though a municipal ordinance is not a criminal offense, it can be expunged. Pursuant to 2C:52-4, a municipal ordinance can be expunged after a period of two years from the date of said conviction.
If you, or your child, has been arrested for underage drinking, call me at 732-625-9661 to discuss the possible ways to defend against this charge.