Disorderly conduct is one of the most frequently charged crimes in the state of Pennsylvania. This isn’t because the people of Pennsylvania are particularly disorderly, but because the law itself covers so many different behaviors.
If a police officer finds your actions to be annoying, they can arrest you for disorderly conduct. Certainly, most officers look for more than annoyance when arresting someone, but you may be surprised at some activities that result in a Pennsylvania disorderly conduct charge.
Pennsylvania statutes define disorderly conduct as conduct that has “intent to cause public inconvenience, annoyance or alarm, or recklessly creating a risk thereof.” So, in other words, if you act in public in an annoying manner and intend to annoy or cause inconvenience or alarm, you can be charged with a crime.
Examples of disorderly conduct that are frequently seen in PA courts include:
- Making unreasonable noise
- Using obscene language or gestures
- Creating a hazardous or physically offensive condition that serves no legitimate purpose.
With such a broad definition, it’s easy to see why so many people are charged with this offense. It’s commonly seen used in times of crowd control, where the police are trying to gain control of a situation with many people present.
Pennsylvania Disorderly Conduct Laws & Penalties
Generally, disorderly conduct is charged as a summary offense, with a potential 90 day jail sentence. However, under some circumstances, it carries a far more serious penalty.
If it’s determined that the “intent of the actor is to cause substantial harm or serious inconvenience, or if he persists in a disorderly conduct after reasonable warning or request to desist,” the charge can be elevated to a Class 3 misdemeanor. A class 3 misdemeanor carries up to 1 year in prison as a maximum sentence.
Whether you were out with friends, cutting loose and having a good time, or if you got into a confrontation with someone, being arrested for disorderly conduct is never a good thing. Fortunately, a defense attorney may be able to help.
From requesting the case be dismissed to working towards a reduced charge, your defense lawyer is there to advocate in your best interests and work to get you the best results possible on your day in court. If you have no criminal record, there’s a good chance you will be able to serve probation in lieu of jail time.
The first step in mounting a successful defense is consulting with a local defense lawyer. Give us a call to speak directly with a Pennsylvania criminal defense lawyer immediately.