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.
• Tempe Police Investigations Unit
• Tempe Municipal Court