Disorderly Conduct Laws
Almost every state has a disorderly conduct law making it a crime to be drunk in public, "disturb the peace," or loiter in certain areas. Since the statutes are often used as “catch-all” crimes, many types of obnoxious or unruly conduct may fit the definition. Police often use a disorderly conduct charge to keep the peace when a person is behaving in a disruptive manner, but presents no serious public danger.
The definition of disorderly conduct can vary from state to state. For instance, in some states, mere possession of an open container of alcohol can constitute disorderly conduct. Similarly, the penalties can vary widely and often depend on the exact nature of the conduct. For lesser offenses, a police officer may simply issue a citation requiring the recipient to pay a fine, like a traffic ticket. For more dangerous or disruptive behavior, the police officer may bring the person to the local jail and require someone to bail the person out. If you have more questions about disorderly conduct, you should check your state’s laws or consult with a local criminal attorney.
What Can You Do?
For more information, see FindLaw’s section on public safety violations.
Facing Disorderly Conduct Charges? Talk to an Attorney
Whether you've been accused of disturbing the peace, being drunk in public, or any other behaviors that constitute disorderly conduct, it's important to know the consequences of a plea bargain or criminal conviction. Although these cases rarely rise to the level of felonious conduct, you should understand how pleading guilty or no contest can impact your criminal history. Contact a qualified criminal defense attorney near you to learn more.