Disorderly conduct is a type of offense that can include a broad range of different types of conduct. These usually involve behavior that is done in a public area and creates a threat or disturbance to persons in the area. Examples of disorderly conduct may include:
- Violating noise ordinances
- Disturbing the peace
- Exhibiting reckless behavior in a crowded area
- Public drunkenness
- Any behavior that compromises public safety
Each state and county may define disorderly conduct slightly differently. Also, crimes that don’t fit into one particular criminal category may often be charged as disorderly conduct.
By itself, disorderly conduct can often be a minor crime. It can sometimes lead to a citation or a small fine. However, some disorderly conduct cases can create major legal issues. This can happen if:
- The disorderly conduct involved alcohol or public drunkenness (especially for repeated or habitual behavior)
- The conduct led to serious injury or harm to another person
- The defendant caused major property damage during their conduct
Disorderly conduct can lead to more serious criminal charges if it is a second or third offense. Repeat offender and habitual offenders are subject penalties such as higher fines and possible jail time for an extended period of time.
Disorderly conduct is often an aspect in cases involving multiple charges. For instance, a person who was caught stealing may sometimes be charged with disorderly conduct (such as when they were fleeing, or regarding their behavior prior to the theft).
Like any other charge, disorderly conduct may be subject to various criminal defenses. Common defenses to disorderly conduct charges include self-defense, involuntary intoxication, and instances where the behavior was necessary to prevent an emergency.
Disorderly conduct can often lead to serious consequences depending on the circumstances. You may wish to hire a criminal lawyer if you need help with a disorderly conduct case. Your attorney can provide you with advice on the case, and can also inform you of what your rights are as a defendant. As laws may vary by location, you may also wish to inquire with a lawyer if you have any specific questions regarding the rules in your area.