Certain state and local laws prohibit behavior that could be considered disruptive or threatening to public safety or the general peace of a public area, such playing loud music in front of a restaurant or inciting violence in a public park. Public safety violations include disorderly conduct and disturbing the peace, which are considered "catch-all" violations for actions or words that compromise the safety or overall peace of public places, varying from state to state. This subsection also includes an in-depth article on public intoxication and a link to FindLaw’s list of all criminal charges.
Disturbing the Peace and "Fighting Words"
In order to get convicted of provoking another person using "fighting words" the district attorney must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that you used offensive words which were inherently likely to provoke an immediate violent reaction, and those words were directed at one or more persons and spoken in a public place. What about the First Amendment? This offense is essentially an exception to the right of free speech that is otherwise guaranteed by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution because courts have held that the types of "offensive words" that this subdivision prohibits "necessarily invite a breach of the peace."
Disorderly Conduct and Assaulting a Police Officer
Sometimes disorderly conduct can be elevated to the more severe crime of assaulting a police officer.In many states, to be guilty you must, with the intent of preventing the officer from performing his or her duties, cause physical injury to the officer. Remember it’s the intent to interfere with the officer’s performance of his or her duties, not the intent to injure the officer. Some statutes also include firefighters, EMS / EMT personnel, emergency room doctors and nurses, investigators and social workers, Department of Corrections officers; Motor Vehicle inspectors, and probation officers.
What to Do When Neighbors are Too Loud: Disturbing the Peace
One of the most aggravating problems between neighbors is noise. If your neighbor is seriously bothering you with noise, the neighbor is probably violating a local noise law. Typical laws regulate the times, types and loudness of the noise you need not tolerate in the interests of being neighborly. Keep in mind, noise can legally exceed the limit in emergencies, such as road repair. Also, some cities issue permits for certain activities, such as a construction project or street fair.
Hiring a Criminal Defense Attorney
If you've been arrested or charged with a public safety violation, you need the immediate assistance of a criminal defense lawyer. A good criminal defense lawyer can explain your rights in all stages of the criminal process and help make the difference between a reduced plea bargain or dismissal and a jail sentence. If you're facing criminal prosecution, a criminal defense attorney can help you understand the nature of the charges filed; any available defenses; what plea bargains are likely to be offered; and what is expected after trial or conviction. Finally, because criminal laws and penalties vary by state, it's important that the attorney have experience with the state and local rules of court.