No crime is one that you should take lightly. However, some are more serious than others. Disorderly conduct is a charge that many people find themselves facing. But it’s not quite as serious as other charges. Understanding the implications of the charge is important and can save you from stress. Find out just how serious is a disorderly conduct charge.
What is disorderly conduct?
Also known as disturbing the peace, disorderly conduct is a common charge that criminal defense lawyers defend against. However, it can be difficult to understand the charge. Unlike some other criminal charges, this one has a broad definition. There are a few different circumstances that can warrant an arrest for disorderly conduct.
1. Unreasonable noise
If you make too much noise and a neighbor alerts the police, you could find yourself facing this charge. Typically, the noise complaint occurs very late at night or early in the morning. However, this isn’t a requirement. It can happen any time there is an unreasonable level of noise.
2. Offensive language as provocation
Although you might not realize it, your offensive language can land you a charge. If you use offensive language in an attempt to provoke someone, it could get you a disorderly conduct charge. It all depends on the specifics of the situation.
3. Disrupting a business with a commotion
Causing a commotion that disrupts a place of business can be a crime. Any action that intentionally disrupts a place of business could result in an arrest.
4. Disruptive behaviors
A police officer can arrest you for disruptive behaviors. For example, the reckless handling of a firearm is disruptive. Additionally, fighting with someone else in a public place could be disruptive. Even refusing to leave a location at the request of police warrants a disturbing the peace charge.
The Seriousness of The Charge
While you shouldn’t take any charge lightly, disturbing the peace is one of the less serious charges. In fact, many attorneys consider it a junk charge. Police officers often use it to arrest individuals when there is no other crime of which they can charge them.
In addition to some of the actions listed above, this charge can be something as minor as loitering. Begging or selling products on someone else’s property is enough for disorderly conduct. If the owner of the property doesn’t want you there, he can call the police, and you can find yourself facing a crime.
Usually, disorderly conduct qualifies as a class one misdemeanor. When this is the case, it has minor penalties. There are other ways that a judge can classify the case, but it depends on the circumstances.
A criminal charge is only as serious as its penalties. Because disorderly conduct occurs so often and is such a broad charge, it has fewer penalties than other serious crimes. If a court considers your charge to be a class 1 misdemeanor, the maximum penalty could be jail time. Depending on the state where you commit the crime, you could face a maximum of six months in jail. In Rhode Island, the charge has a maximum of six months in jail and $500 in fines. In many cases, you may end up with only a fine. As a misdemeanor, the charge does not follow you around as much as a felony. When you apply for a job, your employer won’t see the misdemeanor on your criminal record. It’s not as devastating as some of the more serious charges that keep you from jobs and housing.
It is possible for your disorderly conduct charge to escalate into a serious charge. In some states, it can become a felony crime. If your situation involves a firearm, you might be facing a felony charge. If so, the consequences are more serious. Felonies in any state of the US can have severe consequences. A felony disorderly conduct charge can result in a lengthy jail time and hefty fines. In addition, there’s also the issue of having a felony on your record. Your charge could follow you around long after you commit jail time.
Do you need legal help?
Although this type of charge is relatively minor, the consequences can still interfere with your life. For this reason, you need good legal representation. Without it, you put yourself at risk of facing the maximum penalties. A lawyer can convince a judge to limit your sentence. With his help, you might be able to get off with the minimum penalty. In a best-case scenario, you may end up beating the charge completely.
If you want to fully understand your charges and the legal trouble you may face, you need to speak to a lawyer. Although your charge may seem minor, there’s a lot at stake. Don’t leave your future in the hands of a judge or jury. Instead, hire legal representation to help you navigate the legal process.