Information on Disorderly Conduct Charges in PA
If you were charged with disorderly conduct in Pennsylvania, you are facing criminal charges that, if found guilty, can end up on your permanent record. A disorderly conduct charge is typically considered a summary offense on your criminal record, if you plead guilty. In some cases, it may also be a misdemeanor.
Having a criminal record can be very damaging to your career, job prospects, school admission, and even in finding housing. Although it may seem like a relatively minor offense, it can affect your future for years to come.
Disorderly conduct is a very broadly defined crime and can encompass a lot of different behaviors and actions. It is often referred to as a “catch-all” crime because police officers will often charge a person for disorderly conduct in conjunction with a more serious crime. If the more serious crime cannot be proven in court, they can usually still get a guilty verdict on the disorderly conduct charge.
Let an experienced Pittsburgh criminal attorney help you fight to get your charges dismissed and protect your clean record. If you have been charged with disorderly conduct, contact attorney Justin Ketchel today.
WHAT ARE DISORDERLY CONDUCT CHARGES?
Disorderly conduct occurs when a person intentionally causes, or recklessly creates risk of, public inconvenience or alarm by doing any of the following:
- Engaging in fighting, threatening, or violent behavior
- Making unreasonable noise
- Using obscene language or gestures
- Creating a physically hazardous condition that serves no legitimate purpose
Essentially any action that a person does intentionally that causes a disturbance to the peace of other in a public space can be considered disorderly conduct.
It is important to realize that this can include actions that occur in the privacy of your home if it causes a problem for people around you—such as a neighbor or another apartment nearby.
Public is defined as a place where a substantial group has access. It includes places of business, schools, neighborhoods, places of amusement, apartment buildings, and highways.
Disorderly conduct is often charged in conjunction with more serious charges, such as assault or battery. The criminal statute is quite vague and leaves it open to a wide array of behaviors that could be potentially charged as a crime.
PUNISHMENT FOR DISORDERLY CONDUCT IN PA
In most cases, if you are found guilty of disorderly conduct, you face a summary offense on your permanent criminal record.
A summary offense in Pennsylvania carries a maximum penalty of:
- Up to 90 days in jail;
- Up to $300 in fines.
In specific scenarios, disorderly conduct can also be charged as a third degree misdemeanor, which carries a more serious penalty. If your actions caused a serious inconvenience or substantial harm, or you were asked to stop the conduct but continued, you could face a third-degree misdemeanor charge.
A third-degree misdemeanor carries a maximum penalty of:
- Up to one year in jail
- Up to $2,500 in fines
The distinction between a summary offense and a misdemeanor are important. A summary offense on your criminal record can be expunged if you have no further criminal charges in a period of five years following the guilty verdict. However, a third-degree misdemeanor will remain on your criminal record permanently.
You should speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately so they can review your case and do everything possible to get your charges dismissed, or reduced, to protect your clean record.
DEFENSES TO DISORDERLY CONDUCT CHARGES
There are several defenses that could work in a disorderly conduct case. Each disorderly conduct charge is unique and will require its own defense strategy. Seeking the help of a qualified defense attorney can make all the difference.
A few of the most applicable defense strategies include:
- Lack of Intent
- Intent is an element of the crime of disorderly conduct. The prosecution will have to prove that the defendant intended to cause public inconvenience, or, intended to act in such a way as to create the risk of such inconvenience. If intent cannot be proven, the charges will be dismissed.
- If you have been arrested on a disorderly conduct charge for engaging in a fight in a public place, for example, it may have been because another individual attacked you and you had to fight back for your own safety. A defense lawyer can interview witnesses and have parties testify on your behalf to have your charges dropped.
- Mistaken Identity
- When there are a large number of people in a public space, sometimes the police get the wrong person. A defense attorney can investigate the circumstances and question witnesses to help prove that you were not the perpetrator.
Being charged with disorderly conduct does not mean you will be convicted—building a strong legal defense can help protect your rights and freedom.
Defending Your Rights Against Disorderly Conduct Charges
Whether you have been charged for disorderly conduct for fighting or making too much noise, or any of the other numerous reasons, consult a qualified and experienced theft attorney about your case.
At Ketchel Law, our number one goal is to have your case dismissed.
A strong defense that pursues every angle can make the difference between a guilty and not guilty verdict—the difference between your freedom and being locked up.
FREE LEGAL CONSULTATION
We offer free legal consultations to anyone charged with a crime. Call us today to find out how we can help defend your rights.