An Ohio disorderly conduct charge is one that’s used frequently by law enforcement officers to keep the peace within their communities. But it’s often applied in questionable situations. You may not have even known you were breaking the law, and the next thing you know, you are in handcuffs and facing criminal charges.

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The reason a disorderly conduct charge can be applied in so many situations is because of the broad nature of the law itself. Not only are there several behaviors that can be considered disorderly conduct, but those behaviors are open to interpretation by the police.

While this means that these sorts of charges can sometimes be applied when it’s not appropriate, it also means that the charges can frequently be successfully fought in court. The prosecution must prove all elements of the offense in order to gain a conviction. And if the law was applied incorrectly or even questionably, there’s a chance the charges could be dropped.

Ohio Disorderly Conduct Laws

What is disorderly conduct? Under Ohio law, disorderly conduct is defined using several different behaviors. You could be arrested and charged with this offense if you recklessly cause inconvenience, alarm, or annoyance by:

  • Creating a physically offensive condition that presents the risk of physical harm,
  • Making unreasonable noise or communicating abusive language,
  • Preventing or hindering movement of others,
  • Insulting or taunting another where it is likely to cause a violent response, or
  • Fighting, threatening, or engaging in violent or turbulent behavior.

Or, while intoxicated you:

  • Engage in conduct or create a condition that presents the risk of harm, or
  • Engage in offensive of inconveniencing behavior.

It’s easy to see how this charge could be applied under seemingly insignificant circumstances. If you are out with friends and you’ve had a few drinks, you cannot “inconvenience” people without running the risk of being charged with disorderly conduct. And you can bet, if it’s the police that you inconvenience, they will be happy to arrest you for this offense.

Ohio Disorderly Conduct Penalties

In most cases, the Ohio statutes list penalties for disorderly conduct as only a minor misdemeanor charge, which carries a $150 fine. In some situations, however, you could be charged with a 4th degree misdemeanor, which carries up to 30 days in jail and a $250 fine.

Defending a Disorderly Conduct Charge

When you are facing charges like this, even a minor misdemeanor, you don’t want a misunderstanding or an unfortunate wild night out to end in a criminal record. A criminal defense lawyer can assist you in fighting the charges and clearing your good name.

It’s not unusual to see charges like this dropped. If you’re charged with a 4th degree misdemeanor and a dismissal doesn’t seem likely, an attorney may be able to work out an arrangement to get the charge knocked down to a minor misdemeanor.

The bottom line is– all hope is not lost. You have options to fight this offense.