If you have been charged with Disorderly Conduct please call or email me as soon as possible. Like nearly every other type of criminal charge, it is critical to be proactive and take some action to defend yourself before your next court date.
In Rhode Island Disorderly Conduct is a creation of statute that covers a multitude of sins and is often considered to be the catch-all of criminal charges. This means that when the arresting police department is not entirely sure what to charge a person with, said department simply charges Disorderly Conduct to justify the arrest. Additionally, a count of Disorderly Conduct is often added to criminal Complaints that already allege Assault and Battery or Resisting Arrest, which are the other police intensive criminal charges.
Under Rhode Island law, Disorderly Conduct is a petty misdemeanor, which makes it a very minor criminal offense. However, it is often charged in conjunction with allegations of Domestic Violence. Many times when a police department responds to a domestic related scene, in order to keep the peace, the responding officers looked for evidence of probable cause to make an arrest for Disorderly Conduct. This is because of both the mandatory arrest aspect of Rhode Island’s Domestic Violence laws but also because Disorderly Conduct is defined so broadly that justifying the arrest is too easy.
Since the consequences of a Disorderly Conduct conviction can be so harsh, especially in the context of a Domestic Violence charge, it is critical to at least speak with a competent criminal defense attorney who can assist you. Like most other criminal charges, you do not want to handle this type of case alone because a conviction for this can have both short and long term consequences.
What is Disorderly Conduct?
By statute, a person commits Disorderly Conduct if he intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly:
- Engages in fighting or threatening behavior;
- Engages in violent or tumultuous behavior;
- Makes loud and unreasonable noise (speech is excluded from this consideration) that disturbs a person of average sensibilities;
- Directs at another person offensive words which are likely to provoke a violent reaction on the part of the average person so addressed, otherwise known as Fighting Words;
- Obstructs a highway, street, sidewalk, railway, waterway, building entrance, elevator, aisle, stairway, or hallway which is otherwise accessible to the general public;
- Physically obstructs or interferes with a lawful meeting, procession, or gathering; or
- Looks (without knowledge or consent) with a lascivious purpose through a window, or any other opening into an area in which another would have a reasonable expectation of privacy, a so-called ‘Peeping Tom’.
Whether or not a charge of Disorderly Conduct can be sustained by evidence and proof beyond a reasonable doubt depends upon the facts of the case. In other words, Disorderly Conduct cases are kind of like snowflakes in the sense that while they all kind of look alike, no two (2) cases are identical.