If an individual displays reckless or irresponsible behavior that is witnessed by an officer of the law, he or she may face criminal charges. Unlike charges like burglary, assault, or DWI, disorderly conduct charges may be rather nebulous and may be determined by the arresting officer.
Whereas other criminal charges may be relatively easy to define, disorderly conduct can encompass many different types of behaviors. The charge is often leveled at individuals who:
o Verbally assault officers of the law
o Are visibly drunk in public
o Display belligerent behavior
o Refuse to follow instructions given by police officers
o Participate in unlawful rallies
o Engage in actions that are considered disturbing the peace
o Engaging in fights or other types of physical altercation
o Obstructing traffic
o Playing music at excessive levels in a public place
Disturbing the peace rarely warrants a felony criminal charge, but in serious cases, the individual may face felony prosecution. People usually face misdemeanor charges after being arrested or ticketed for disorderly conduct. Misdemeanor charges often result in fines and a mark on the individual’s criminal record.
Police officers may use such charges to disburse noisy crowds or protesters who are obstructing traffic. They may also apply the charge to individuals who are throwing noisy parties or are otherwise disturbing the peace in a public area.
Individuals who engage in physical confrontations may face felony charges of assault and battery if they attack another person and cause injury. Minor scuffles or altercations, if they are brief or relatively harmless encounters, may warrant charges that are far less serious.