In Arizona, and elsewhere, disorderly conduct is kind of a catch-all offense for unruly behavior. If the police feel like you are disrupting them in some manner and they don’t have another legal reason to arrest you, you could be arrested on a disorderly conduct charge. Sure, there are situations that might warrant a charge like this, but it’s often used to penalize someone who is simply being an annoyance.
It’s precisely the broad nature of this law that makes it a charge that can be beaten. With a local defense lawyer on your side, there’s a good chance you will get the charges reduced or even dropped. In some cases, however, the prosecution successfully tries a disorderly conduct charge and penalizes the defendant as harshly as possible.
Under the law, disorderly conduct is defined as acting with intent to disturb the peace of another. This could be disturbing the peace of a neighbor, your own family, or any other person. The following are just some situations that could warrant such a charge:
- Refusing to disperse when requested by law enforcement officials
- Disturbing the operation of a business by making a commotion
- Making “unreasonable” noise
- Using offensive language to provoke someone to violence
- Recklessly handling a gun
Generally, disorderly conduct is considered a misdemeanor and is punished by up to 6 months in jail and fines reaching $2,500.
In some cases involving a firearm, you could face a felony disorderly conduct charge. If you’re charged with felony disorderly conduct, you could be sentenced to up to 18 months in prison and labeled a convicted felon for the rest of your life.
Ref: ARS 13-2904
Loosely related to disorderly conduct is the offense of loitering. The law labels this offense a disruption to the peace. This criminal charge is considered a misdemeanor and is punishable by up to 6 months in jail and fines reaching $2,500.
Loitering isn’t just standing around in public where you have no business. The following are some examples of behavior that could result in a loitering charge:
- Gambling in an unauthorized area
- Selling wares in a public transportation area
- Soliciting sex in public
- Present on school grounds with no legitimate business and after being asked to leave
Ref: ARS 13-2905
When you are facing criminal charges, any criminal charges, you could be under a significant amount of stress. You’re not only facing jail time, but a permanent criminal record.
If you are charged with violating Arizona disorderly conduct laws or a related crime, contact us for a free legal case evaluation.