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Disorderly Conduct – Disturbing the Peace


Disorderly Conduct Charges – Disturbing the Peace

Disorderly conduct is one of the most common offenses used by law enforcement and prosecutors in the State of Arizona. It is a very subjective charge and police are given broad discretion in applying this charge to all types of 'disruptive' behaviors. Other similar offenses related to disturbing the peace include loitering, public intoxication, criminal nuisance, indecent exposure and prostitution. We frequently see disorderly conduct charges paired with other violations, including assault and domestic violence related charges.

Some of the most common behaviors resulting in charges of disorderly conduct include:

  • Loud or unreasonable noise (i.e. loud music at a party)
  • Disturbance of the peace (i.e. barking dog)
  • Fighting in a public place
  • Public drunkenness
  • Obstructing traffic
  • Creating a disturbance in a business
  • Loud argument between couples or other family members

In most cases, a disorderly conduct charge is a class 1 misdemeanor, with a maximum punishment of up to 6 months in jail, a $2500.00 fine (plus 84% surcharge) and probation is normally available. In instances where a gun or other weapon was involved, these charges will be classified as a class 6 felony. If this is the case, the maximum punishment would be up to 2 years in prison for a non-dangerous offense, or 3 years maximum for a dangerous felony offense. In some felony cases probation is available. In any criminal case there can be fines. A felony criminal record will also result in loss of civil rights (right to vote, etc.) and loss of gun rights.

According to the Arizona Revised Statutes (ARS 13-2904), disorderly conduct is defined as follows:

A. A person commits disorderly conduct if, with intent to disturb the peace or quiet of a neighborhood, family or person, or with knowledge of doing so, such person:

1. Engages in fighting, violent or seriously disruptive behavior; or

2. Makes unreasonable noise; or

3. Uses abusive or offensive language or gestures to any person present in a manner likely to provoke immediate physical retaliation by such person; or

4. Makes any protracted commotion, utterance or display with the intent to prevent the transaction of the business of a lawful meeting, gathering or procession; or

5. Refuses to obey a lawful order to disperse issued to maintain public safety in dangerous proximity to a fire, a hazard or any other emergency; or

6. Recklessly handles, displays or discharges a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument.

B. Disorderly conduct under subsection A, paragraph 6 is a class 6 felony. Disorderly conduct under subsection A, paragraph 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 is a class 1 misdemeanor.

Some of the possible defenses a criminal defense attorney might advance in a case involving disorderly conduct might include; 1) You were acting in self-defense of your property or family, 2) You were exercising your First Amendment right (freedom of speech), 3) You were provoked through threats made by another individual, and, 4) The State has a lack of evidence to prove their case. After thoroughly investigating your case and interviewing State's witnesses, your attorney will determine the best possible defense(s) to advance on your behalf, given the specific facts and circumstances in your case.

While a misdemeanor disorderly conduct charge can seem insignificant, a criminal conviction can have long lasting consequences, including limiting your ability to gain meaningful employment, pursue your educational goals and attaining other opportunities in life. A felony conviction is even more significant and can also result in a loss of gun rights and other civil rights, including your right to vote. A misdemeanor charge designated as domestic violence can also result in a loss of gun rights upon conviction. Treating these types of charges seriously and seeking the advice and representation of counsel may help to limit the negative consequences you may face as a result of a criminal conviction. Mr. Buckallew is an experienced and aggressive criminal defense attorney with a proven track record in successfully resolving countless criminal cases, including those involving disorderly conduct, assault, domestic violence related charges, indecent exposure, prostitution, solicitation, criminal nuisance and many other types of serious criminal charges. With our primary office in Mesa, the Firm handles cases in Mesa, Tempe, Scottsdale, Chandler, Phoenix, Gilbert and surrounding cities across the valley.

**This blog should be used for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice. If you need legal advice, please contact the Firm to schedule a consultation regarding your case.

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