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Disorderly Conduct

The crime of disorderly conduct is also known as ‘disturbing the peace’. It’s governed by California penal code, section 647. Disorderly conduct is a crime that involves public activity or behavior that’s offensive or disruptive, and interrupts other people’s ability to enjoy a public space. According to law enforcement, most disorderly conduct arrests often involve an element of alcohol or drugs.

Disorderly conduct is a misdemeanor offence punishable by 6 months in jail, a maximum of $1000 in fines or both. If you are convicted of repeated disorderly conduct charges, the penalties could increase.

Offenses classified as disorderly conduct

The following is conduct that’s classified as disorderly under California PC 647:

  1. Improper sexual conduct such as:
    • Engaging in or soliciting another person to engage in lewd or immoral behavior in a public place or a place that’s exposed to the public.
    • Engaging in prostitution or soliciting for acts of prostitution.
    • Waylaying a person in public or a location open to public view in order to beg or solicit for money or donations.
    • Loitering in or near a public toilet with the aim of engaging in lewd acts or in order to solicit for lewd and unlawful acts.
    • Invading another person’s privacy such as peeping or recording them in a bathroom or dressing room in order to get sexual gratification.
  2. Unlawful lodging or loitering

    Lodging in a private or public building, place or structure without the owner’s permission.

  3. Drunk and disorderly behavior

    Being in public under the intoxication of alcohol, drugs and controlled substances or a combination of drugs and alcohol, to a point where one is unable to exercise care for self and others or if as a result of this intoxication, one obstructs others from using public spaces.

  4. Fighting, general noisiness and using offensive words

    Fighting in public or challenging someone to a fight in public is a crime in California. Making unreasonably loud noise to intentionally disturb others and using offensive words in a public space, particularly when those words could provoke violence is also a crime.

  5. Rioting

    Rioting is a misdemeanor offence that involves the use of unlawful force in public. Rioting is governed by California penal code section 404. The charges for rioting are also $1000 in fines or 6 months of jail time or both. You can also be held responsible in civil court for financial losses resulting from your personal conduct and any damage that you cause during a riot.

  6. Disturbing the peace on a school campus

    Under PC 415, if you are non-student, it’s a crime for you to fight, be unreasonably loud or to use offensive language while on campus property. Charges for this misdemeanor include a maximum of $400 in fines, a maximum of 90 days of jail time or both. Penalties will increase if you are charged with the same offense repeatedly.

  7. Refusing to disperse

    When two or more people who’ve assembled to disturb the peace fail to comply with an order to disperse, this is classified as disorderly conduct. Refusing to disperse is a misdemeanor crime for which penalties are restitution (that is, paying for any damages caused) and community service. (Cal. Penal Code section 404.)

Disorderly Conduct charges may not seem very serious because they are misdemeanors. However, penalties for prior convictions could potentially get heavier depending on your circumstances. Contact our Irvine defense lawyer now for a consultation.

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