Arrested for Disorderly Conduct? Find Out How to Protect Your Rights.
Arrested for disorderly conduct or a related charge? Many people who find themselves charged with this crime do not think it is fair. Very often the difference between being arrested and not is whether you personally annoy a police officer or not. And being annoying, or complaining is not against the law.
Disorderly conduct can be difficult to prove in court, but you will need competent representation, due to the vagueness of the law. That is because as defined in the statues of nearly every state, their disorderly conduct laws are very broadly written, to describe any conduct that disturbs the peace or “endangers the morals, health, or safety of a community”. Disorderly Conduct Laws
What exactly determines disorderly conduct varies from one jurisdiction to another. Most state disorderly conduct laws specifically state that misconduct is what constitutes the offense. Acts such as the use of vulgar and obscene language in a public place, loitering, inciting a riot, and harassment of passengers on public transportation, have all been regarded as disorderly conduct in a court of law in varying states.
Unlawful, disorderly behavior amounts to conduct that has the propensity of causing a disturbance, or is likely to provoke another incident in which the police will need to be called to the scene is likely disorderly conduct. However, in some states, police can and will make an arrest even if the current conduct wouldn’t otherwise cause an arrest. The vagueness of the law in such states allows arrests in those situations.
You can be cited for disorderly conduct just for standing in the wrong place in a demonstration. If a crowd becomes “unruly” in the opinion of the police, they may start grabbing people in an attempt to disperse the crowd. And that could simply be a result of too many people in a small space, and not any one person’s direct action or behavior. But if you are up front or vocal (within your legal rights) you can easily be the one facing a charge.
The wide discretion police officers have to charge people on the spot, means that in a situation where they are tasked with crowd control, and that task becomes challenging, the cops are apt to make some bad decisions.
But a cop’s poor decision, or him following a dumb order doesn’t mean you should be stuck with a criminal charge on your record.
Disturbing the Peace
Disturbing the peace is a slightly different criminal charge in some states, or it can be an element of a disorderly conduct charge. Breach of peace may also be an element of this, where the act of breach of the peace usually also includes a documented quantifiable harm as a result of the disturbance.
Penalties for Disorderly Conduct
The punishment for disorderly conduct is usually fixed by statute. Under most statutes the penalty consists of a fine, imprisonment, or both. Some statutes provide that an accused cannot be imprisoned for disorderly conduct unless he or she has been given an opportunity to pay a fine and has defaulted on the payment.
If you have been accused of or charged with disorderly conduct, please fill out the contact form to request a consultation with a criminal defense attorney. There is no obligation for any criminal case evaluation.