Criminal Law

Disorderly Conduct

Disorderly conduct is considered to be a catch-all crime because it can be applicable to a variety of actions. Each state uses their own definition of this crime, and generally it prohibits "obnoxious" or "rowdy" behavior in public. Some offensive behaviors that may give rise to a disorderly conduct charge include:

  • Disturbing the peace
  • Acting in a vulgar or lewd manner
  • Loitering
  • Provoking fights or violence
  • Shouting profanities, threats, or abusive language
  • Being under the influence of drugs or alcohol in public
  • Blocking traffic or obstructing sidewalks
  • Making excessive noise
  • Compromising public safety

To learn more about disorderly conduct in your state, especially if charged with this crime, you may want to speak with an attorney to see how your state law may affect you.

What Happens if I am Charged With Disorderly Conduct?

Disorderly conduct is typically a misdemeanor charge in most states. Receiving a citation or being arrested for this offense means you are a defendant in a criminal law case. The process and resolution of your case will depend on how your state court system works and whether you have any arrests and convictions in your past.

In all criminal cases, you are presumed to be innocent until you are proven guilty in a court of law. As a result, there may be a police investigation to gather additional evidence or speak with anyone who may be a witness to your crime, or who can attest to your innocence in the matter. You may need to attend an arraignment, preliminary hearing, and pre-trial hearings before your case goes to trial.

Sometimes, the prosecution may offer you a plea deal so you may avoid going through a trial and negotiate your penalties. If you move forward with a trial, you can be found not guilty or guilty of disorderly conduct and await to hear the penalties at sentencing.

What Are the Penalties for Disorderly Conduct?

Like the definition of the crime, the penalties for disorderly conduct change from state to state. This charge is typically classified as a misdemeanor that is punishable by fines, community service, substance abuse education programs, or probation.

However, incarceration may be imposed for more serious incidents or if you have a prior criminal record, so you may wish to speak with an attorney to discuss the punishments you may be facing and options for defending against them.

How Do I Decide if I Need an Attorney?

While you may be entitled to a public defender, you may wish to hire a private criminal defense attorney who can dedicate more time to your case and who regularly handles disorderly conduct cases. Your defense attorney can explain the implication of your charges, develop a defense strategy, handle required court filings, and advocate for you throughout the process.

Depending on your situation or any past criminal history, you may be unsure whether to accept a plea deal or go through the trial process to prove your innocence. A skilled criminal defense lawyer can counsel you on your rights, potential penalties, and offer advice on how to proceed.

A number of criminal defense attorneys offer free initial consultations to review your situation and discuss the fees associated with a case like yours. Some attorneys offer payment plans or require a small upfront retainer fee and then you pay based on their hourly rate.