Disorderly Conduct

Disorderly Conduct

Washington D.C. Criminal Defense Lawyer

Sometimes what you might think is having fun or being harmlessly rowdy is actually seen as a criminal violation by law enforcement. If you have been arrested and charged with disorderly conduct in Washington D.C., you need to take your case seriously and prepare your defense right away. If you do not, you could be slammed with unexpectedly harsh criminal penalties.

Penalties you could face upon conviction include:

  • Fine up to $1,000
  • Up to 180 days in jail
  • Lengthy probation after release
  • Community service

As disorderly conduct is a blanket term used to describe a number of inappropriate and illegal behaviors, the actual penalties you face can vary. In some instances, fines may exceed $10,000 and come with a 10-year prison sentence. Regardless of the severity, you should contact our Washington D.C. criminal defense attorneys at Hunter & Johnson, PLLC.

Different Forms of Disorderly Conduct

Disorderly conduct is sometimes synonymous with disturbing the peace or breaching the peace charges. By legal definition, if you do or say anything that could cause others to feel angry, frustrated, scared, or annoying, or if you encourage someone else to engage in a criminal act, you could be charged with disorderly conduct. The definition is kept intentionally vague so that disorderly conduct can be tacked onto nearly any other criminal charge, but there are specific examples as well.

  1. Public intoxication: Having one too many alcoholic drinks in a public place can constitute disorderly conduct. Contrary to popular belief, you could be arrested for public intoxication even if you are lawfully inside of a bar or pub.
  2. Noise violations: Between the hours of 10:00 PM and 7:00 AM, noise must be kept at a reasonable level as to not disturb and wake others. Shouting or using universally offensive language to incite another person is also illegal.
  3. Public nuisance: If you relieve yourself in public for any reason, even if you are clinically ill and cannot control your bladder or bowel, you could be charged for disorderly conduct. Peeping or spying on someone when they believed they had privacy is also akin to causing an illegal nuisance.
  4. Inciting a riot: Washington D.C. law considers a group of five or more people acting in a reckless or intentionally unlawful way a riot. If you partake or encourage in this behavior, even if no damage is done, you can be arrested. Just throwing a stone or another hard object in a public, occupied space may be considered illegal and riotous.
  5. Obstruction: Simply blocking a passageway or the movement of someone traveling through a public area can be a misdemeanor disorderly conduct crime. In most cases, you would have to be warned by the police to cease your obstruction before you could be arrested.
  6. Dog laws: You cannot allow a dangerous dog to come off its leash in a public space, nor may you encourage, partake in, or know about illegal dog fighting without contacting the police.

Will a Disorderly Conduct Affect Employment?

A disorderly conduct will affect future employment because it will show up on a background check. Don't exepect your employer to understand that you plead to an M4 Disorderly just by reading the report from their background checker. They may look at it as an Obstruction, if you aren't clear. You can avoid this difficulty in the future by having the record sealed. The best thing to do is to get your disorderly conduct conviction expunged from your criminal records.

Your Defense Starts with Us

Due to the ambiguous nature of a disorderly charge, much of the evidence against you will likely come from testimonies from the arresting officer or witnesses. Defending yourself from the charges can depend entirely on your ability to cross-examine the prosecution’s witnesses and dissuade the jury from seeing things their way. If you are not familiar with how this is done, worry not, for our Washington D.C. criminal defense attorneys have years of experience doing just that. Call us at 202.759.7929 to schedule your consultation today.

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