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Disorderly Conduct

Disorderly Conduct

Rhode Island Disorderly Conduct Laws

Disorderly conduct laws exist in every state and are often used as a “catch-all” charge for minor offenses. Disorderly conduct is a prosecutable offense that can lead to fines, jail time, and other punishments upon conviction. The laws defining “disorderly conduct” can seem somewhat confusing. Individuals often find themselves facing these charges without any prior knowledge of the legal definition of their charge. Disorderly conduct is defined as the criminal charge of an individual due to unruly behavior according to each states legal guidelines.

In Rhode Island, Disorderly Conduct is a relatively minor charge but it is one that must be taken seriously. Any misdemeanor criminal conviction will leave you with a permanent criminal record and penalties for disorderly conduct that can include jail time. Charges for domestic disorderly conduct, when the offense is alleged against someone with whom you have a domestic relationship as is identified under the Domestic Violence Prevention Act, can carry with it additional penalties.

Rhode Island Disorderly Conduct Laws

§ 11-45-1 Disorderly conduct. – (a) A person commits disorderly conduct if he or she intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly:

(1) Engages in fighting or threatening, or in violent or tumultuous behavior;

(2) In a public place or near a private residence that he or she has no right to occupy, disturbs another person by making loud and unreasonable noise which under the circumstances would disturb a person of average sensibilities;

(3) Directs at another person in a public place offensive words which are likely to provoke a violent reaction on the part of the average person so addressed;

(4) Alone or with others, obstructs a highway, street, sidewalk, railway, waterway, building entrance, elevator, aisle, stairway, or hallway to which the public or a substantial group of the public has access or any other place ordinarily used for the passage of persons, vehicles, or conveyances;

(5) Engages in conduct which obstructs or interferes physically with a lawful meeting, procession, or gathering;

(6) Enters upon the property of another and for a lascivious purpose looks into an occupied dwelling or other building on the property through a window or other opening; or

(7) Who without the knowledge or consent of the individual, looks for a lascivious purpose through a window, or any other opening into an area in which another would have a reasonable expectation of privacy…


RI Disorderly Conduct Penalties

In the state of Rhode Island, there are imprisonment terms and fines in place for disorderly conduct convictions. If you are found guilty of this crime you may be imprisoned for up to six months and fined no more than five hundred dollars. Disorderly Conduct is usually combined with the act of another crime. Law enforcement officers may give tickets for lesser offenses while more serious behavior could lead to an actual arrest and require bail.

Commonly Included Crimes

Given the wide range of behaviors that could constitute disorderly conduct, a person may be arrested for this crime without proper cause. Virtually any socially offensive or disruptive conduct may cause an arrest or charge and be prosecuted as disorderly conduct. Some of the types of crimes commonly included in a disorderly conduct charge may include:

  • Public drunkenness
  • Inciting a riot
  • Disturbance of the peace
  • Loitering in certain areas
  • Fighting / physical altercations
  • Obstructing traffic
  • Use of extremely obscene or abusive language
  • Loud or unreasonable noise
  • Obstruction, disturbance, or interference with normal activities or business
  • Engaging in other forms of lascivious or offensive behaviors according to the statute

Is Disorderly Conduct a Serious Charge?

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.

The Penalties

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.

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