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What is Disorderly Conduct?

If you’ve been accused of disorderly conduct, such as disturbing the peace or drunk in a public place, it’s important to consider your next steps.

Consequences for a disorderly conduct conviction can be severe. After you engage an experienced criminal defense attorney, it’s time to contact a reputable bail bondsman.

Persons accused of disorderly conduct have the right to post bail in most situations. U.S. citizens have a Constitutional right to bail. The arrested individual has the legal right to be released on bail or bond pending trial unless the court makes compelling reasons not to release that person.

A bail bond is an agreement between the accused and/or his or her co-signers to attend court when and as required. If the defendant doesn’t attend court dates as agreed, then the bail arranged—and money or property posted as security—is forfeited to the bail bondsman. The court then issues an arrest warrant to bring the accused back to court.

If you and your sureties have ever asked, “What is disorderly conduct?” continue reading this post.

Definition of Disorderly Conduct

Most states have disorderly conduct laws. In some states, it’s considered a crime to loiter in specific areas, appear drunk in a public place, or disturb the peace.

Disturbing or breaching the peace is a criminal offense.

Disturbance of the peace is said to occur when an individual participates in disorderly conduct, e.g. causing extremely loud noise or fighting. In other words, the disorderly individual’s conduct or words affect another individuals’ right to tranquility or peace.

In such a situation, the disorderly individual can be charged with disorderly conduct or disturbing the peace.

Disorderly Conduct or Disturbing the Peace

Most states and municipal governments have disturbing the peace laws to deter individuals from disturbing the peace of others, such as when they’re attending to personal matters and daily business. Laws differ between states but, in general, law prohibits:

• Challenging another person, or fighting with them, in public
• Shouting or intending to commit an unlawful activity or incite violence
• Inciting violence or using offensive language in public
• Holding/arranging an unlawful assembly in public
• Knocking on a hotel door when the guest is asleep with the specific purpose of annoyance
• Allowing a dog or owned animal to bark excessively in a residential neighborhood or area
• Shouting/screaming obscenities from a vehicle window at or near another individual’s residence
• Bullying one or more students at or near school property
• Playing excessively low music when others might be asleep, or continuing to play music after a warning

Many state laws say the individual’s disorderly conduct must be purposeful or willful, or with malicious (bad) intent. In other words, the law says that if the individual merely embarrassed, harassed, or annoyed the other person, that’s insufficient proof of breaking disorderly conduct and/or disturbing the peace laws.

When a fight is the cause of disorderly conduct allegations, the individual or individuals engaged in the conduct must be determined as unlawful. If the individual(s) were fighting while defending others or in self-defense, he or she isn’t breaking the law.

Courts must evaluate the specific circumstances of every case. The judge will likely consider the accused’s actions/words, location, time, and place in which the supposed disorderly conduct occurred. The judge will also consider physical actions taken by the accused, such as touching another person or a passerby or police officer at the scene, etc.

Common Actions

Sometimes, the accused individual participated in common actions that aren’t considered disorderly conduct or disturbing the peace under the law. For instance, if the accused was simply annoying or embarrassing someone else, accidently bumps into someone else, gives another person an antagonistic gesture (such as putting up his or her middle finger, even to an authority figure), or engages in horseplay, the judge is likely to consider these actions as non-violent.

However, if the individual actively sought to incite public disorder or violence in others, he or she can be charged with criminal liability.

Disorderly Conduct Penalties

If the accused is found guilty of disorderly conduct or disturbing the peace, he or she is guilty of a misdemeanor criminal offense in most jurisdictions. This verdict can mean fines, alternative sentences (e.g. community service), or jail time.

It’s possible for a first-time offender to avoid a jail sentence depending on the specific circumstances of the case. Engaging an experienced criminal attorney can help to properly present and argue the case before a judge.

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