We all lose our tempers sometimes. And sometimes we act out of line. But rarely are these situations interpreted as a criminal offense.
You may be shocked to learn just how many normal situations could qualify as a disorderly conduct charge. If there is any kind of a loud scene, and the police are alerted, arrests can result.
If you’ve been charged under Virginia disorderly conduct laws, you likely know all too well how these laws can be applied in a variety of situations.
Virginia Disorderly Conduct Laws
Disorderly conduct is one of those criminal charges that can have a broad interpretation. The police can arrest someone on suspicion of disorderly conduct in all sorts of situations—from a mutual fight to what would otherwise be considered a simple disruption of the peace.
Understanding these laws and how they are applied is the job of a criminal defense attorney. A complete understanding of the statute allows an experienced lawyer to challenge whether or not the elements of the crime were in fact met by the defendant.
Under Virginia law, disorderly conduct is generally defined as behavior committed with the intent to cause inconvenience, annoyance, or alarm of the public or recklessly creating the risk thereof, by engaging in conduct having a tendency to cause acts of violence by the person(s) at whom the conduct is directed, and doing so in a public place.
An example would be using language known to incite a fight, often referred to as “fighting words”. If you use offensive actions or words that could incite violence from another person, you could be charged with disorderly conduct.
This law also applies to situations where you cause the disruption of an official meeting or the disruption of a class or school event.
Disorderly Conduct Penalties in Virginia
Virginia law classifies disorderly conduct as a Class 1 misdemeanor, which carries up to one year in jail and fines.
How a Lawyer Can Help
While the disorderly conduct law can be applied in many situations, the law itself is quite specific. A criminal defense attorney could challenge that their client actually caused public inconvenience, alarm, or annoyance. They can also challenge whether the action had any risk or tendency to cause or incite violence, and even whether the offense took place in public.
They can ask that the charges be dropped due to a lack of evidence, or they can move to have evidence suppressed if it was seized in a manner that violated the defendant’s rights.
Finally, if you have a clean criminal record, your defense lawyer can work to negotiate a favorable resolution with the prosecution.
You don’t want to face charges like this alone. Anytime there is a potential for jail time, you have to take the charges seriously. If you’ve been charged with disorderly conduct, contact our Virginia criminal defense lawyers today.