Disorderly Conduct Charges: Why they are often challenged and dismissed

Disorderly Conduct also known as “disturbing the peace”, is one of the most common criminal offenses. In 2011, police made 17,537 arrests for this offense in Arizona, making it the 4th most common offense in the state.

Most are charged as Class 1 Misdemeanors, which carries a jail sentence. But depending on the circumstances, may be charged as Class 1 felony which exposes a person to harsh prison sentencing.

Disorderly Conduct laws cover a wide range of criminal conduct, which many perceive it as a “catch-all” offense. Others consider it a last resort charge, in those cases where police are annoyed with a person, and have no other applicable charges for which to cite a person. It is often coupled with other offenses such as assault, domestic violence, unlawful discharge of a gun, or resisting arrest.

Disorderly Conduct charges are often vague in nature, making it one of the most challenged criminal offenses in court. Often the suspect was acting within the order of their Constitutional Rights. They are often dismissed for the following reasons:

• Insufficient evidence;
• Lack of consistent credible witness statements;
• Violations in Constitutional Rights;
• Affirmative or Justifiable Defenses were successfully argued.
• Inability of the prosecution to “prove beyond reasonable doubt” that the crime was committed.

A.R.S. 13-2904 Disorderly Conduct Laws

A person is guilty of Disorderly Conduct, if, with intent to disturb the peace and quiet of a neighborhood, person, family, or business, other public or place, with knowledge of doing so commits the following:

1) Engages in fighting, violence or seriously disruptive behavior; and includes public drunkenness resulting in disorderly behavior;
2) Makes unreasonable and disruptive noise; or
3) Uses abusive or offensive language or gestures to against another that is likely to provoke immediate physical retaliation by that person; or
4) Makes commotion of long duration; verbal or physical display with the intent to prevent transactions of a business, lawful gathering, meeting, or procession; or
5) Refusing to comply with a lawful order to disperse for any of the following purposes:

• To maintain public safety;
• If they are within the dangerous proximity to a fire, or other hazard;
• Any other emergency as deemed necessary by civil local, or state officials, or criminal law enforcement entities.

These offenses will be charged as Class 1 Misdemeanors, and expose a person to jail, and other penalties.

A person will also be guilty of Disorderly Conduct if with intent and knowledge, displays or discharges a firearm, other deadly weapon, or dangerous instrument. This offense will be charged as a Class 6 Felony, exposing a defendant to prison, and other harsh penalties.


Criminal Defense Attorney for Disorderly Conduct in Tempe, AZ

Disorderly Conduct charges are not always justified, are often vague in nature. For these reasons criminal defense attorneys can often get them dismissed. You should never plead guilty before consulting an experienced criminal lawyer about your matter. If retained they will evaluate your case and determine what defenses may be used based on your circumstances. They will tell your side of the story; protect your rights; defend your charges; and work to get you the best possible outcome in your case.

Additional Resources:

Disorderly Conduct Laws

Arizona Department of Public Safety – Crime Statistics 2011

• Tempe Police Department – Resources

• Tempe City Court

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Maricopa County DUI & Criminal Defense Firm
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