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Disorderly Conduct

Disorderly conduct is an offense which involves the disturbance of public peace and decency.  Almost every state has a statute that makes it a crime to be drunk in public.  Beyond being drunk in public, police may use the disorderly conduct charge to protect the peace, when a person is behaving in disruptive manner but presents no serious public danger.

The elements of disorderly conduct vary from state to state.  Most states specify the type of misconduct that constitutes the offense.  To be guilty of disorderly conduct, the defendant must first have engaged in the disorderly conduct as specified by statute.  Second, the conduct of the defendant was likely to cause or provoke a disturbance or violent response.  Acts such as the use of vulgar or obscene language in a public place, loitering, causing a crowd to gather in a public place or annoying passengers on a mode of public transportation are generally regarded as disorderly conduct.  

The factors surrounding the incident are crucial to determining guilt in a disorderly conduct case.  Past cases have found that when the defendant did not have control over loud music there was no disorderly conduct.  In addition, depending on the situation, cases involving violent words or vulgar language were found not likely to provoke a disturbance or violent response.

The punishment for disorderly conduct depends on the state statute. The offense is not committed unless the act strictly falls within the statute.  Under most state statutes the penalty consists of a fine, imprisonment, or both. Some state statutes provide that an accused cannot be imprisoned for disorderly conduct unless he or she has been given an opportunity to pay a fine and has defaulted on the payment.   To find a qualified lawyer to defend a charge of disorderly conduct, please visit

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