There aren’t many crimes that you can commit and honestly say you didn’t know it was against the law. Even if you don’t know the technical aspects of criminal law, some behaviors you just know are illegal. But Illinois disorderly conduct laws aren’t always that simple. As a matter of fact, the law is so broadly defined that it’s not unusual for people to be charged with disorderly conduct and not know they were breaking the law at all.

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Unfortunately, ignorance of the law is not a viable defense. This means you can’t get out of a disorderly conduct charge by simply saying you didn’t know it was a crime. But there are other options.

Illinois Disorderly Conduct Laws

What is disorderly conduct?  Under Illinois law, disorderly conduct is generally defined as “acting in such an unreasonable manner as to alarm or disturb another and to provoke a breach of the peace.”

This simple definition makes it immediately apparent why the law has become sort of a catch-all for behavior that the police find disruptive or even simply annoying. You don’t have to harm anyone or even threaten harm. You also don’t have to put any property in danger. You merely have to act unreasonably in a way that could disturb someone else.

Being loud while out with friends could be considered disorderly conduct. Getting into an argument in public could too. There are countless different scenarios that could lead to a criminal charge like this and this is precisely why the charge is so common.

Penalties for Disorderly Conduct in Illinois

In general, disorderly conduct is charged as a Class C misdemeanor, which carries up to 30 days in jail and $1,500 in fines. However, some disorderly conduct offenses (like peeping into someone’s home or filing a false report with police) are considered Class A misdemeanors. These carry up to one year in jail and $2,500 in fines.

How Can I Fight A Disorderly Conduct Charge?

When you are facing disorderly conduct charges in the Illinois courts, you have every right to be a little frightened. No one wants to go to jail and no one wants to have a criminal record. A criminal defense lawyer’s job is to help ensure your rights are protected and that you get the best results possible in court.

If there is a question as to the appropriateness of the charges against you, your attorney could work to have the case dismissed. But if the charge is legitimate and you simply want to avoid jail time, a plea agreement with the prosecution could help you get probation instead of incarceration.

The best way to know for certain what your options are is to discuss the case with a lawyer as soon as possible. Contact us to speak with an Illinois criminal defense lawyer today.