Articles Tagged with disorderly conduct charges

Why Disorderly Conduct Charges are often challenged and dismissed

“Disorderly Conduct” is also known as “Disturbing the Peace”. There are a number of offenses under Arizona Criminal Code A.R.S. 13-2904 that fall within the classification of Disorderly Conduct. These are among the most successfully challenged criminal offenses due to their vague and sometimes biased nature.

By law the police must have “probable cause” to make an arrest. And although they may feel that the arrests meet the standards for probable cause that a crime occurred, the charges are often disputed and unjustified. For example, police often issue charges of Disorderly Conduct when they are annoyed with a person, and no other criminal charges apply to their conduct.

Disorderly Conduct charges are often seen coupled with other criminal charges such as domestic disputes or domestic violence, assault, resisting arrest, and other serious felony criminal offenses.
Under A.R.S. 13-2904 in Arizona, a person may be guilty of disorderly conduct if they intentionally and with knowledge disturb the peace of a neighborhood, business, person, gathering, meeting, or procession. Behaviors that fall within this code include but are not limited to fighting; serious, violent or disruptive behavior; public belligerence; unreasonably loud noise music, or laughter; use of abusive or offensive language; use of offensive gestures to anyone present that will likely provoke immediate physical retaliation; refusal to obey a civil or lawful order to evacuate or disperse issued to maintain public safety in emergency; or reckless handling, display or discharge of a gun or deadly weapon.

Criminal defenses include but are not limited to violations of constitutional rights including right to free speech, and gathering peacefully; insufficient evidence; lack of eye witnesses, lack of biased witnesses; or conflicting witness testimony; justification defenses; and failure of the prosecution to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a criminal offense occurred.

Most are charged as Class 1 Misdemeanor in Tempe AZ call for 30 days in jail if convicted. If the behavior involves reckless handling, display or discharge of a gun or other deadly weapon, they are charged as Class 6 Felonies. All felonies in Arizona expose a person to prison terms sentencing and other harsh penalties. Other penalties include fines, fees, assessments, costs, probation, community service, and court ordered anger management counseling.

You should always consult a criminal defense attorney if you face disorderly conduct charges in Arizona, to discuss your options for defense. Defenses may apply that can be used to challenge due to lack of evidence, and justification. But your chances of a dismissal increase substantially if you are represented by a qualified criminal defense attorney.

Additional Resources:

• Tempe Police Investigations Unit

Disorderly Conduct in Arizona

Arizona Revised Statutes

Arizona Sentencing Chart 2012 – 2013

• Tempe Municipal Court

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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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