Disorderly Conduct California

Find out about the legal definitions, penalties, and defense strategies of disorderly conduct in California with the Law Offices of Christopher Chaney. Call us today.

Understanding Disorderly Conduct Laws in California

Disorderly conduct, also known as “disturbing the peace,” covers a range of minor offenses in California criminal law. Actions like causing a disturbance, hanging around, or getting involved in a riot may fall into this category. Disorderly conduct laws in California aim to protect the public from disruptive or offensive behavior that could cause harm, annoyance, or inconvenience. 

Californians need to understand the consequences of these laws since violations can lead to criminal charges and negatively impact their reputation, job prospects, and overall quality of life. 

Navigating these laws can be intimidating, so having experienced legal professionals by your side is invaluable. At the Law Offices of Christopher Chaney, we are committed to providing clear and comprehensive legal advice, helping clients understand and effectively respond to allegations of disorderly conduct. 

What Constitutes Disorderly Conduct in California?

Disorderly conduct refers to offensive and disruptive public activities or behaviors that infringe upon the ability of others to enjoy public spaces. This offense involves actions that disrupt communal areas’ peaceful coexistence and harmony. According to California Penal Code, section 647, disorderly conduct is considered a misdemeanor and could result in a penalty of six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.

Common Behaviors Classified as Disorderly Conduct

Conducts that are punishable under California disorderly conduct laws include:

  • Improper Sexual Conduct: Disorderly conduct charges can encompass a range of inappropriate sexual behaviors, particularly those that take place in public settings. “Peeping” refers to the invasion of private property to obtain sexual gratification. Engaging in or soliciting prostitution, as well as engaging in other lewd or dissolute conduct in public, are all considered forms of disorderly conduct under California law.

  • Public Intoxication: Public intoxication refers to being under the influence of alcohol, drugs, controlled substances, or a combination thereof to the extent that one is unable to exercise care for oneself and others. It also encompasses obstructing others from utilizing public spaces due to this state of intoxication.

  • Disturbing the Peace at a School Campus: Disturbing the peace on a school campus is distinct from disorderly conduct for several reasons. The primary distinction is that individuals who are not students at a school are prohibited from engaging in disorderly conduct, including fighting, using excessive noise or offensive language, and rioting on school property. 

  • Refusal to Disperse: In California, if you refuse to disperse, it’s considered a violation of the peace. It occurs when a group of people gathers in public and ignores public order and authority, but they continue doing so. It includes not following a police officer’s request to leave a public area. Charges of refusal to disperse usually happen during protests when demonstrators don’t leave and get arrested. 

  • Riot: Rioting, considered a misdemeanor offense, involves the unauthorized use of unlawful force in public. If convicted, you could be fined up to $1000, imprisoned for six months, or both. Plus, you may be held responsible in civil court for any financial losses caused by your actions during a riot and any damage you cause.

The Legal Consequences of Disorderly Conduct

In California, disorderly conduct is considered a misdemeanor. For most cases of this offense, you could face up to six months in jail, a fine of up to $1,000, or both. The penalties can get even more challenging if you’re a repeat offender. However, the consequences of disorderly conduct offenses involving individuals under 18 can get more serious. 

The defendant could, for instance, receive up to 364 days in county jail and a $2,000 fine for violating the privacy of a minor. If they solicit prostitution from a minor, they could also face a year in jail and a $10,000 fine. 

Additional Legal Considerations

Getting convicted for disorderly conduct can have severe consequences beyond legal issues. For example, it can negatively impact your current and future job opportunities, as potential employers might refuse to employ anyone with a criminal record. On top of that, landlords often conduct thorough background checks, and a disorderly conduct conviction could raise concerns and make it challenging to find suitable housing. 

Defending Against a Disorderly Conduct Charge

It is crucial to mount a strong defense when facing disorderly conduct allegations due to possible repercussions.

Some potential defenses against disorderly conduct used by our attorneys at the Law Offices of Christopher Chaney include:

  • Challenging the Arrest Without Probable Cause: If the police did not have a valid reason to arrest you, any evidence collected during that arrest may be deemed inadmissible.

  • Highlighting Insufficient Evidence: To get a conviction for disorderly conduct, prosecutors need to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the person depicted engaged in such behavior. If there is not enough evidence to support their claims, it can lead to a dismissal of the charges.

  • Proving That the Unlawful Act Was Not Committed Publicly: Disorderly conduct only applies to actions that occur in public spaces. If your actions were done in a private area, it may not be considered a criminal offense.

  • Freedom of Speech: If you regret saying something offensive or under the influence, you can use freedom of speech as a defense in court. The First Amendment grants Americans the right to express their thoughts and beliefs as long as they don’t harm others.

  • Exposing False Accusations: Our attorneys can help gather evidence and witnesses to prove your innocence if you were falsely accused of disorderly conduct.

When facing a disorderly conduct charge, the role of an experienced Los Angeles criminal defense attorney is indispensable. They have a deep understanding of the intricacies of the legal system, skillfully employ defense strategies, and adeptly negotiate with prosecutors. 

Navigating the Legal System

When you’re stopped or held by law enforcement, knowing your constitutional rights and what to do if you get arrested is essential. If you ever find yourself facing an arrest for disorderly conduct in California, here are some key things to keep in mind:

1. Arrest Circumstances: Cops can only arrest you in specific situations:

  • They saw you commit a crime or break the law.

  • They have good reason to believe you’re involved in criminal activity or breaking the law.

  • There’s a court-issued warrant for your arrest.

2. Miranda Rights: Contrary to common belief, law enforcement officers are not obligated to immediately read you your Miranda rights upon arrest; their requirement arises when they commence questioning. However, in less severe cases, officers often choose to inform you of your rights from the outset to ensure awareness. They must read your Miranda rights if you are taken into custody and subjected to questioning. Failure to do so would constitute a violation of the law.

Diversion Programs and Alternative Sentencing

In California, eligible defendants can pursue specialized treatments and educational courses instead of jail time. These diversion programs in California offer an alternative for offenders, allowing them to participate in tailored educational and therapeutic interventions that address their individual needs. The main goal of these programs is to prevent future criminal behavior by tackling the root causes that contribute to unlawful conduct. 

By prioritizing rehabilitation over punishment, alternative sentencing options help individuals resolve the underlying issues that may have led to their unlawful behavior. If the diversion program is completed, the case is usually dismissed, and the records are sealed.

Why Choose the Law Offices of Christopher Chaney

When you choose the Law Offices of Christopher Chaney to handle your disorderly conduct case, you’re entrusting an experienced team to defend you. We understand the seriousness of the charges and their potential impact on your life. Our top priority is providing exceptional legal defense to protect your rights and reputation.

At our firm, we put your needs first and take a client-centered approach. We’re dedicated to achieving the best possible outcome for you. If you or someone you care about is facing a disorderly conduct charge, contact the Law Offices of Christopher Chaney for a consultation.

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