You don’t have to be a “criminal” to face criminal charges. Regular people, like you, sometimes find themselves in a predicament they would have never predicted. Often these situations involve charges like disorderly conduct.
The reason Tennessee disorderly conduct charges are so common is because the law itself is open to interpretation. A police officer can interpret many actions as fitting the requirements for a disorderly conduct charge. And though they aren’t always right, the charge can cause a major headache to the defendant even without a conviction.
In some cases, the police charge a person with disorderly conduct and their defense attorney later realizes the charge simply isn’t justified. In cases like this, where the evidence doesn’t back up the criminal charge, your criminal defense lawyer can motion the court to have the charges dismissed.
Tennessee Disorderly Conduct Laws
What is disorderly conduct? There are several different behaviors that could constitute disorderly conduct. Generally, if you do any of the following in public with the intent to cause public annoyance or alarm, you can be charged and ultimately convicted:
- Fight or engage in violent, threatening behavior,
- Create a dangerous or offensive conditions,
- Refuse to disperse from an emergency after being ordered by the police, or
- Make unreasonable noise that hinders others from carrying on in their lawful activities.
Ref: TCA 39-17-305
Reading through this description, it’s easy to see how the police could interpret all sorts of actions as “creating an offensive condition” or exhibiting “unreasonable” noise. These words allow the officer to interpret your actions and the law as they see fit, and often allow them to arrest someone for an action that isn’t technically criminal at all.
A Tennessee disorderly conduct charge is considered a Class C misdemeanor and carries up to 30 days in jail and fines.
Discussing your case with an experience defense lawyer is the best way to know for certain what your options are. There’s always a chance that the case could be dismissed and you could walk away scot-free. But even if you did break the law, you may qualify for other alternatives that would save you jail time.
Sometimes, we make mistakes and those mistakes could be criminal. But the police also make mistakes, and arrest people all the time who are not guilty. After all, if everyone the police arrested was always guilty, there would be no need for courts, lawyers and judges!
But you do need to accept that you’ve been charged with a crime and do everything possible to avoid the worst consequences, and protect your rights in court. Speaking with an attorney is the first step.