Defenses to Distrubing the Peace in California

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What Does it Mean to Disturb the Peace?

In California, individuals can be charged with disturbing the peace when using offensive language in public, engaging in unlawful fighting, or making unreasonably loud noise. A conviction of breaching the peace in the state is a misdemeanor or an infraction. It is punishable by a fine up to $400 and/or up to 90 days in jail.

Is There a Defense I Can Use If I Didn’t Mean to Disturb the Peace?

Yes. A defendant can contend they didn’t act with intent, maliciously, or willfully to disturb the peace. If the defendant reasonably believed their words or actions wouldn’t provoke a violent, immediate reaction, then they would most likely not be found guilty.

Can I Use the Defense of Being Falsely Accused of Breaching the Peace?

Yes. A person can be charged with disturbing the peace, but be falsely accused. The false accusation can result from an argument with someone or someone not liking your behavior.

Is Self-Defense a Defense to Disturbing the Peace Charge?

Yes. This charge often results from unlawful fighting. Self-defense occurs when an individual uses force to defend themselves. This defense can be use when:

Can I Use the First Amendment as a Defense?

Yes. A defendant can’t be guilty of disturbing the peace if their speech was protected by First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. 

Should I Talk to a Lawyer About My Case?

Yes, it’s important to discuss your case with a criminal lawyer for the best chance to fight your charge.

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Last Modified: 10-04-2016 01:45 PM PDT

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