One of the most commonly charged offenses in Arizona is disorderly conduct. This offense is also known as disturbing the peace and is used by the police as a type of catch-all offense when someone engages in behavior that others find disturbing.
While this charge is very common, it is also a criminal offense. Here are 10 strange examples of disorderly conduct charges followed by a discussion of the penalties you might face if you are convicted of disorderly conduct.
1. Pulling a fire alarm.
Pulling a fire alarm is a juvenile type of prank that has been popularized in many movies. However, if you pull a fire alarm at a school or business, you could end up facing disorderly conduct charges.
2. Brandishing a gun/firearm.
While many people in Arizona love their guns, behaving in a manner deemed to be irresponsible with a firearm can get you in trouble. Unless you are defending yourself, it is illegal to recklessly display, discharge, or handle a gun in a manner that disturbs your family, friends, or neighborhood.
3. A screaming match during a sports game.
Being passionate about your team is fine as long as you don’t act in an over-the-top fashion. For example, a parent at a Little League game who gets angry because of the umpire’s call can find himself or herself facing legal problems quickly if he or she goes onto the field and gets into a screaming match with the umpire in front of the spectators and children.
4. Doing “burnouts” or “donuts” with a vehicle.
Many young people enjoy testing the limits of their vehicles and their driving abilities by doing donuts or burnouts in parking lots. While this might seem like harmless fun, you can end up with a disorderly conduct charge if it disturbs the peace of a quiet neighborhood.
5. Yelling in public while intoxicated.
Many people have seen others who are obviously intoxicated and engaging in odd behavior in public. When someone is drunk and loudly yelling while walking down the sidewalk, it might make others nervous about passing by the intoxicated person and forcing some to cross the street to avoid him or her.
This type of behavior can also land someone in hot water with the police and result in a disorderly conduct charge.
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6. “Streaking” or running in the nude during an event.
Streaking is a type of shocking behavior in which someone suddenly streaks nude across the field or floor during an event. This type of behavior might be the result of a dare and most commonly happens during sporting events.
If a streaker is caught, he or she will likely face charges of disorderly conduct.
7. Funeral interference.
Funerals give families and friends time to say goodbye to their loved ones. When people are at funerals, their emotions are already high. It is understandable that someone who interrupts a funeral and behaves badly will likely cause a disturbance and emotional distress among the attendees.
For example, standing up and cursing the deceased person will likely end with a quick call to the police by the funeral director or staff.
8. Loud music house party for all to hear.
While most people love to attend parties, hosting a party that gets out of control can land you in hot water. If you throw a loud party in your home with booming music and a lot of partygoers, your neighbors might call the police because of the traffic congestion, obstruction of your residential street, litter, loud music, and potential incidences of public drunkenness.
The best approach to avoid a potential disorderly conduct charge is to keep your music turned down, and your invitation list small.
9. Overly loud vehicle exhaust.
While the Arizona Revised Statutes do not place a decibel limit on the exhausts of cars or trucks, motorcycles have absolute decibel limits placed on them under Ariz. Admin. Code § 17-4-510. Even if you simply have muffler problems in your vehicle, however, the police still might charge you with disorderly conduct if they deem the noise from your exhaust system to be too loud.
Under Arizona law, all vehicles are required to have mufflers that are in working order, and muffler bypasses are illegal.
10. Refusing to leave an area after ordered by officials.
When police respond to an accident or fire, gawkers can get in the way and cause serious problems. This is why the police try to get bystanders to move along and to refrain from standing around at these types of scenes. If you refuse to leave when an officer has ordered you to do so, you could be charged with disorderly conduct.
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Penalties for disorderly conduct
While you might not engage in any of the strange examples of disorderly conduct that were previously listed, many different types of conduct can result in a disorderly conduct charge. Under A.R.S. § 13-2904, you can be charged with disorderly conduct if you do any of the following types of activities with the intent to disturb the peace:
- Getting into a fight or engaging in other behavior that is seriously disruptive
- Making unreasonably loud noise
- Using offensive or abusive language to try to provoke others
- Causing a commotion in a business, meeting, or procession
- Refusing to leave the scene of an emergency after being ordered to do so by an official
- Recklessly handling, discharging, or displaying a gun
In most cases, disorderly conduct is a class 1 misdemeanor. If you are convicted of class 1 misdemeanor disorderly conduct, you will face up to 6 months in jail, a fine of up to $2,500 plus other court fees, and probation for up to 5 years.
If your disorderly conduct charge involves a firearm or other dangerous weapon, you can be charged with a class 6 felony. The sentencing range for a class 6 felony in Arizona is from six to 18 months in prison. Since felonies are more serious than misdemeanors, the court can also sentence you to pay a substantial fine of up to $150,000.
Having a misdemeanor or felony conviction on your record can continue to cause problems long after you have completed your sentence. If you have a criminal record, you might have trouble finding a job or finding an apartment. You might also struggle to obtain credit and might have problems in your interpersonal relationships.
Why Hire an experienced Disorderly Conduct Defense Attorney
Many people think that disorderly conduct charges are nothing to worry about. However, a conviction can cause serious problems in your life. An experienced criminal defense attorney at the Shah Law Firm can carefully review the evidence that the police and prosecutors are using against you to identify all potential defenses that might be available.
Your defense lawyer might be able to secure a plea to reduced charges or a sentence that avoids prison or jail time. In some cases, your lawyer may win the dismissal of the charges against you. To learn more about your case and how we can help, call the Shah Law Firm today to schedule a consultation at 602.560.7408.