How Do I Fight a Disorderly Conduct Charge?

April 14, 2020

A common charge filed in any jurisdiction is disorderly conduct, which includes activities or behaviors that disturb the peace. A conviction of disorderly conduct can result in jail time, fines, probation, and community service, as well as the consequences of having a criminal record.

This charge can stem from an event that involves a large group as this setting may risk inciting a crowd. In other instances, this charge can be filed against a single intoxicated person making trouble at midnight on a quiet residential street. Under criminal law, circumstances, setting, and intent are often considered when dealing with a disorderly conduct charge.

Disorderly Conduct Examples

The laws governing what constitutes disorderly conduct covers a variety of infractions and situations. Officers have discretion in how to apply disorderly conduct, allowing them to use it as a broad term for disruptive behaviors. The following list contains common situations that can result in a disorderly conduct charge:

  • Disturbing the peace: Used interchangeably with a charge of being a public nuisance, this generally relates to episodes in which a person is causing a commotion that is intended to upset or irritate people in the vicinity.
  • Public intoxication: Often associated with poor decision-making, public intoxication is a specific offense.
  • Indecent exposure: Blatant indecent exposure may carry more serious charges; however, this charge is often tacked on to a disorderly charge for public urination.
  • Fighting: When a fight does not rise to the level of assault or battery, a less serious charge of disorderly conduct may be applied.
  • Failure to disperse: When law enforcement tries to break up a crowd, those who resist may be charged with disorderly conduct.
  • Protests: Protesters frequently get charged with disorderly conduct. Though demonstrating is a protected right, blocking access to businesses or traffic can result in charges.
  • Disrupting a public gathering: Interrupting a city council meeting or making a scene at a funeral can be the basis for a disorderly conduct charge.
  • Police encounters: While disagreeing with an officer may be fine, threats or physical contact is not. Taking things too far can result in a disorderly conduct charge.

Defense of Disorderly Conduct

There are several ways to defend against a criminal charge for disorderly conduct. If the issue had to do with fighting, it is common to claim self-defense. Sometimes it can be argued that the situation does not constitute a criminal case of disorderly conduct. Other times the defense may argue that the crime did not even occur, such as when it can be proven that a reasonable person would not have been disturbed by the conduct in question.

Often, a conviction for disorderly conduct requires a reckless disregard or an intent to cause harm; if neither can be established, the defense may be successful.

West Chester Criminal Lawyers at the Law Offices of Heather J. Mattes Represent Clients Charged with Disorderly Conduct

A disorderly conduct charge can result from one night of poor decision-making. If you are charged with disorderly contact, our successful West Chester criminal lawyers at the Law Offices of Heather J. Mattes will fight for your rights. To schedule a free consultation, contact us online or call us at 610-431-7900. Located in West Chester, Pennsylvania, we advocate for the accused in Chester County, Bucks County, Delaware County, Lehigh County, Montgomery County, and Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania.

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