As a result of a request from the NJLP Preempted Ordinance Repeal Project, the Manville Borough Council has agreed to repeal their Morality Ordinance at their upcoming meeting on August 12th1. This ordinance covers loitering, being drunk, fighting, cursing, trespassing, lewdness, public nudity, annoying a school teacher, cursing at a police officer, and other things. The Manville News covers the story here.
Local laws like this in New Jersey are invalid because the 1978 criminal code preempts local ordinances like this. The 1978 criminal code specifically excluded several acts that were at one time illegal, including loitering, public drunkenness, and some consensual sexual acts.
The New Jersey Preempted Ordiance Repeal Project has successfully had ordinances repealed in over 30 town. Loitering and other invalid ordinances still exist and are enforced in many towns. Is there an invalid loitering law in your town? Contact us and we will help to repeal it.
The basic premise that consensual sex acts between adults in private should not be criminal is widely accepted today. Thus, as previously mentioned, neither the commission's report nor the statute provides for the punishment of such conduct. This serves to repeal the crimes of fornication and sodomy as well as adultery. The legislature went further than the commission report in some respects, however. The political body presumably was better able to determine what would be acceptable than the commission, and several provisions that the Legislature eliminated from the criminal code indeed should have been taken out. Public drunkenness is a case in point. Both the commission and the Legislature saw no reason to make this an offense. Nonetheless, some alternative needs to be developed to deal with the problem. Because the Legislature did not follow the commission's lead in making public drunkenness an offense, it is reasonable to suppose that the Legislature will provide another means of assuring the protection of the intoxicated person and the public. Finally, loitering was an offense that was wisely decriminalized under the new Code.2
1. The Libertarian Party of Central NJ first tried to get this ordinance repealed in 2003. The township attorney at the time agreed with our request, however no action was taken. John Paff, Chair of the Preempted Ordinance Repeal Project asked again in June of 2013.
2. The Criminal Justice Quarterly, Volume 7, Number 2. August 1978. "Comments Upon the New Jersey Penal Code", Paragraph VI, Page 100