What Is "Disorderly Conduct"?

Fairly regularly, I come across clients who are charged with "disorderly conduct". Many people feel like there is no way to beat this charge, because very often they were intoxicated when they interacted with the police and said or did some things that they wouldn't have done when they were sober. Police officers will often cite citizens for disorderly conduct for simply behaving badly.

The bad news is that disorderly conduct is a class 1 misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail. The good news is there are many ways to defend against this charge.

Definition of Disorderly Conduct

Disorderly conduct is governed by Virginia Code section 18.2-415. First and foremost, for conduct to be charged as "disorderly", it must have occurred in a public place. In other words, if you are in your own home, or on other private property, you cannot be charged with disorderly conduct. Disorderly conduct is more than mere rudeness or lack of decorum. Disorderly conduct is one of three things:

  1. "conduct having a direct tendency to cause acts of violence by the person... at whom the conduct is directed." In other words, conduct that has a direct tendency to incite violence.
  2. disruption of "any funeral, memorial service, or meeting of the governing body of any subdivision of this Commonwealth... or of any school, literary society, or place of religious worship" if, and only if the disruption "prevents or interferes with the orderly conduct" thereof or has the tendency to incite violence.
  3. disruptive of any school or activity of any school if the disruption prevents or interferes with the operation of the school or activity.
  4. As you can see, disorderly conduct covers a very narrow range of activity. Often times police officers will be frustrated with a belligerent suspect, but will have nothing to charge them with, so they will charge them with disorderly conduct.

Contact My Firm for Help

Do not simply accept a conviction as a given if you are charged with this offense. There are countless legal arguments to beat a disorderly conduct charge. Call us right away, we can tell you how!

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