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Disorderly Conduct

What is a Disorderly Conduct Charge?

Disorderly Conduct is a criminal offense that is given to a person who is accused of having intent to cause a public nuisance. While this seems fairly vague on its face, the statute is meant to cover a wide range of conduct that annoys and alarms.

In Pennsylvania, disorderly conduct consists of two elements. In other words, you must do two things to be found guilty of disorderly conduct:

  1. You must have an intent to cause to cause public inconvenience, annoyance or alarm, or recklessly create a risk of it; and
  2. Any of the following:
    1. Engage in fighting or threaten fighting or engage in violent or tumultuous behavior;
    2. Make unreasonable noise;
    3. Use obscene language, or making an obscene gesture;
    4. Create a hazardous or physically offensive condition with no legitimate purpose.

For example, a person who yells expletives at people on the sidewalk can be arrested for disorderly conduct because they are causing a public inconvenience and using obscene language.

If the person on the street is only yelling, he can still be charged with disorderly conduct because he is creating a hazardous or physically offensive condition with no legitimate purpose by yelling at passer-bys. If, however, the person on the street is a political protester and is yelling because he opposes a war, he has a legitimate purpose and cannot be found guilty of the offense.

This offense is also used to charge people who have been caught drinking or doing something similar in public. Disorderly Conduct can also used by many prosecutors and police officers as a downgrade offense.

What are the potential consequences of a Disorderly Conduct?

A disorderly conduct can be graded as a summary offense, and in rare cases, a misdemeanor of the third degree.

If you are charged with a summary offense, you can expect a maximum of up to 90 days in jail and a $250 fine, plus costs. If you are charged with misdemeanor disorderly conduct, you can expect a maximum of up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $5,000.

The difference between a misdemeanor and a summary offense is that a person can be charged with the higher offense if they intend to cause substantial harm or serious inconvenience, or continues to engage in disorderly conduct after reasonable warning to stop.

Any criminal conviction can affect your job status, job prospects, school, and personal life. In Pennsylvania, convictions are even kept online, so a simple Google search can bring up the fact you were arrested and convicted.

Should I get an attorney to fight the charge?

The bottom line: Fighting a disorderly conduct charge can be challenging. You should consult an Attorney who can present your case to the court in the best light possible for you. The lawyers at the Law Firm of Greg Prosmushkin, P.C. have decades of experiences dealing with these types of charges. Contact us today for a free consultation.

This content was written on behalf of Greg Prosmushkin.

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