Home » Disorderly Conduct
Disorderly conduct criminalizes actions such as saying offensive things to cause a violent reaction, protesting at funerals, rioting, and falsely reporting a fire. From a policy perspective, these actions unreasonably disturb the community’s peace. In addition, disorderly conduct laws are subjective in their wording and application to real-world situations.
One may believe that Washington’s state law against disorderly conduct infringes on their federal constitutional rights to free speech under the First Amendment. Generally, these challenges have yet to be successful when argued.
In the State of Washington, disorderly conduct can occur in several ways. Although there may be other forms of disorderly conduct, the ways disorderly conduct typically occurs are below.
Uses abusive language and thereby intentionally creates a risk of assault.
Deliberately disrupts any lawful assembly or meeting of persons without legal authority.
Intentionally obstructs vehicular or pedestrian traffic without lawful authority.
Falsely report an emergency knowing that the report will likely cause an evacuation or public inconvenience or alarm.
Fail to disperse when ordered to do so by law enforcement or another public official.
Pickets or protests a funeral.
A disorderly conduct charge can have serious consequences. Usually, disorderly conduct is a misdemeanor, but under certain conditions, it can become a felony.
Typically, you could incur the following penalties if convicted:
While jail time is often short, it could last up to a year if convicted of a misdemeanor. First-time offenders will likely not see any jail time. The court will likely suspend the sentence and enter a time-served sentence. In this case, the time spent in jail will satisfy the court. Repeat offenders could get more time. If the offense is severe, you could spend a year in jail.
Fines for disorderly conduct could range from $25 up to $1,000 or more. Most jurisdictions levy penalties as opposed to jail time. Probation is also an option.
Probation is also a typical sentence for first-time offenders. For example, it is not uncommon for a person charged with disorderly conduct to receive several months of probation. However, the court could change the punishment to jail time if probation is violated.
If you are charged with disorderly conduct, you will need to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney to help you make your case and give you the best chance of having the charges dropped.
Regardless of the degree charged the goal remains the same. We will help you avoid conviction for the criminal charge, but perhaps more importantly, keep you out of jail.
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