Many people think of disturbing the peace as something that happens in a public setting, generally involving someone who is belligerent or a group of people who are unruly, such as protesters or rioters. By definition, it is considered a crime against the public peace. Common examples of disturbing the peace include trying to start a fight with someone in a public setting such as a bar or sports arena, willfully making an unreasonable amount of noise that disrupts the public, or being verbally offensive to someone with the specific intent of provoking a violent reaction from them. Disturbing the peace can occur in a domestic scenario as well. In fact, disturbing the peace is one form of domestic violence that you can be charged with in California.
Domestic violence is legally defined as a violent or threatening action taken against someone with whom you are in or have been in a domestic relationship with. This could include a past or present spouse, domestic partner, boyfriend, girlfriend, or fiancé, the mother or father of your child, a past or present cohabitant, or someone you are closely related to either through blood or marriage. The action can be physically hurting them, sexually assaulting them, threatening their safety or the safety of those close to them, harassing them, destroying their property, or disturbing their peace. A loud and disruptive argument or dispute is a common example of disturbing the peace that, if between two people closely related to each other or in a close relationship together, can be considered domestic violence. Disturbing the peace is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to 90 days in a county jail and/or a fine of up to $400. This may seem like a minimal sentence, but there may be additional consequences. If you are facing a disturbing the peace charge for a domestic dispute, it may result in a domestic violence restraining order being issued. Also called a DVRO, these documents should be taken very seriously because of the restrictions they place on the defendant. Violating a DVRO can result in jail time and fines for each violation.
Many people may not know that disturbing the peace is often a charge that is part of plea bargain. This means someone facing a more serious domestic violence crime, such as domestic battery, may be offered the lesser charge of disturbing the peace in exchange for a guilty plea. This is important to keep in mind because domestic violence specific offenses, such as domestic battery, carry with them more weight than other offenses. An official domestic violence offense can render you ineligible for possessing firearms, holding certain jobs or positions, and can even affect custody of your children. Police officers will most likely make an arrest if they respond to a domestic violence call. You may be arrested if you are on scene when the police arrive, but that does not mean you are automatically charged and convicted. If you have an attorney respond on your behalf early enough in your case, they may be able to prevent the prosecutor from filing charges or may be able to negotiate a more serious charge, such as domestic battery, down to disturbing the peace. The prosecution may be motivated to arrange this plea bargain for you if you agree to plead guilty and if there isn't enough strong evidence against you to convict you of battery. If you are facing a domestic violence charge, you may want to consider speaking with a criminal defense attorney about the possibility of a plea bargain. A domestic violence offense is one worth fighting because of the significant consequences it can result in. And, in certain situations, an attorney may be able to reduce your charge down to disturbing the peace, which comes with minimal jail time and a nominal fine when compared to some other offenses.
Disturbing the peace can still be a serious charge. Speak with an experienced California criminal defense attorney if you are facing this charge to discuss how to handle your case. An attorney can advise you on what consequences you could face and assist you with building a defense for court. In some instances, a skilled attorney can get your disturbing the peace charge dismissed altogether.
If you are in the Tulare, Fresno or Kings County area and have questions about domestic violence charges, call experienced domestic violence defense attorney Christopher Martens today for expert counsel. At The Law Offices of Christopher Martens, we know how to prepare you to successfully defend your case and will not be afraid to take your case to trial. With over ten years of criminal defense experience, attorney Martens is ready to defend your rights. Contact our Visalia or Hanford, CA offices at 559-967-7386 or email us at [email protected] to discuss a possible plan of action for your case.