Conducting your self in a disorderly manner, under California Penal Code 647, can result in a misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct. Disorderly conduct is not just being out of order; it actually covers a range of actions and behaviors. It is an umbrella charge, so to speak, for otherwise just being a public nuisance, disrupting the peace or putting others' safety at risk. You can be charged with disorderly conduct if caught soliciting for illegal transactions or services, including prostitution or drug sales. Begging in most public places can land you a charge of disorderly conduct, especially if when asked you do not move. Similarly, loitering is enough to warrant you a disorderly conduct charge, especially if you are not heeding any posted no loitering signs or have been asked to move but refuse. Inhabiting a residence, building or structure without a legal right to do so, also termed "squatting" is, you guessed it, cause for a disorderly conduct charge. Perhaps some better known examples of what disorderly conduct looks like is being drunk and disorderly in a public space. Similarly, if you are intoxicated in a public space and you are acting in disregard to yours or others' safety, you can be charged with disorderly conduct. Even just restricting the use of a public space, when intentional, can result in disorderly conduct charge. Disorderly conduct is a criminal charge that can apply to seemingly very minor civil infractions. For example, if you are taking up space in a public park and for some reason have been asked to move, not moving after that point can result in you being charged. Or, you and your friends are leaving a bar and are excited about a good game; you may have been drinking heavily and are celebrating loudly. This could land you a criminal charge of disorderly conduct. You may not be charged every time you are in one of these situations but you may be if an peace officer requests you move or quiet down and you refuse. There are a few defenses in court if you find yourself facing a disorderly conduct charge. An officer could wrongfully accuse you of disorderly conduct so understand the law thoroughly to catch any mistaken accusations. It is not illegal for adults 21 years of age or older to drink on private property so the prosecution must prove you were in a public area when you were found to be violating this law. This isn't always as cut and dry as it seems. City codes change with development and as ownership of space changes hands, so can its status as public or private. Maybe they mistakenly thought you were drinking alcohol when you weren't or unintentionally were drinking on public property you thought was privately owned. Perhaps you were mistakenly identified as a solicitor of an illegal service or substance. An officer is usually a little ways from you when these kinds of actions are observed and they could have been mistaken. It helps to have a witness in these scenarios. Similarly, you could have been unintentionally restricting access to a public space or were not conscious when you were asked to vacate the area. Consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney if you are facing disorderly conduct charges. An attorney can evaluate your case and advise you on how to proceed with your defense. The prosecution must prove you intentionally broke this law and given the wide variety of actions and behaviors that can end in a disorderly conduct charge, it can be hard to prove intentional violation. To avoid being in this situation, always heed publically posted signage about use of public space, obey requests by law enforcement officers, even if you feel they are unwarranted and if arrested, conduct yourself in as mannerly a way as possible. If you conduct yourself poorly when arrested, your conduct can be held against you which will likely land you a conviction in a disorderly conduct case.
If you or a loved one has recently been arrested and are being charged with disorderly conduct, call experienced criminal defense attorney Christopher Martens today for expert counsel. At The Law Offices of Christopher Martens, we can listen to your story and help you prepare a strategic defense to ensure you the best possible outcome for your case. Contact our offices at 559-967-7386 or email us at [email protected] to discuss a possible plan of action for your case.