Representing Clients Facing Disorderly Conduct Charges
Many people believe that disorderly conduct charges are not serious matters. However, disorderly conduct is a misdemeanor, which is a criminal offense in Maryland. Convictions for disorderly conduct can have surprisingly serious consequences, and anyone facing these charges should consult with a Maryland disorderly conduct attorneys as soon as possible. At Alpert Schreyer, LLC, we represent clients facing this type of charge, among many others. We can build a strong defense for you, so please call our office for more information today.
Disorderly Conduct Under Maryland Law
Disorderly conduct is an offense that is also commonly known as disturbing the peace, since the two offenses involve similar behavior. Each charge is kind of a catchall charged when a police officer believes that they should arrest someone based on their behavior, though there may not be a specific crime committed. If an officer arrests you for disorderly conduct, you should call our Bethesda criminal defense attorney immediately.
Common Disorderly Conduct Allegations
The offense of disorderly conduct can involve behavior that police officers believe is too noisy, annoying, or offensive. Conduct can include picketing or protesting, or even building a bonfire on the beach, which Maryland law specifically prohibits during certain hours of the day. Disorderly conduct laws essentially criminalize behavior that is likely to disturb or annoy others, including police officers. For this reason, disorderly conduct charges can be very subjective, as the range of conduct that can result in charges is wide.
Generally speaking, a disorderly conduct charge can result in a $500 fine and up to 60 days in jail. However, this charge can often coincide with other charges, as well. Some people facing disorderly conduct charges may also face allegations of assault, destruction of public property, or similar offenses. The penalties for the combined crimes can escalate quickly. You can also face multiple disorderly conduct and disturbing the peace offenses at the same time for different acts. A skilled criminal defense lawyer in Bethesda can advise you about each of the charges you face and what you can expect when you go to court.
Handling Disorderly Conduct Cases
Under Maryland law, many acts can qualify under the offense of disorderly conduct, including the following:
- Exhibiting offensive actions that others find disturbing
- Making obscene gestures or comments
- Not “moving along” when law enforcement officers ask you to do so
- Obstructing a person’s access to a public place, which can include locations such as a restaurant, shop, street, sidewalk, public building, school, park, or bus station
- Making excessive noise or engaging in offensive conduct while on a private property that may disturb others not on the property
- Drinking alcohol or being intoxicated in public
In most cases, your behavior must disturb others to qualify as disorderly conduct. However, police officers have significant discretion when deciding whether someone’s behavior qualifies as disorderly conduct. If an officer is biased against someone, the officer may claim that they were disturbing the peace when, in reality, their behavior should not have constituted this offense. Convictions often rest on an officer’s testimony about the defendant’s conduct, and you need a lawyer who understands how to challenge the testimony and challenge whether your conduct constituted a crime.
Unlawful Assembly and Picketing
We all have the right to peaceful assembly. However, disorderly conduct laws in Maryland also make it a crime to assemble with others in a manner that you intend will disturb others, including their right to stay calm, either in public or in their own homes. The purpose of this portion of the law is to prevent people from picketing private residences and some businesses with the intent to harass people who live there or to affect the flow of traffic to and from the picketed location.
There are some situations in which such picketing or assembly is not an offense, including:
- Picketing a person’s home that they also use as a place of business
- Picketing in a labor dispute
- Holding a public meeting in places that people commonly use as places for public discussion
For example, striking workers who decide to picket a business owner’s home-office should not be arrested so long as they do so in an orderly manner. However, police officers may arrest people who picket in front of a neighbor’s home because they don’t like their yard decorations or house renovation.
Failure to Leave a Public Place
Maryland’s disorderly conduct laws also criminalize refusing or failing to leave a public building after someone asks you to leave and when you have no lawful business in that place. Such buildings can include the following:
- A place of business, including stores, shops, malls, restaurants, or bars
- Public parking lots and buildings
- Places of worship
- Motels and hotels
- Schools, including K-12 schools, colleges, and universities
- Sports or concert arenas
Penalties for Convictions
The penalties for disorderly conduct and disturbing the peace convictions will depend on the type of conduct and whether there are any additional charges or prior convictions. Generally, disturbing the peace can lead to up to 60 days in jail and/or a maximum fine of $500. The same penalties apply to public intoxication allegations. Unlawful assembly or picketing can mean up to 90 days in jail and a $100 fine. If prosecutors allege you failed to leave a public building, you can face a fine of up to $1,000 and up to six months in jail.
Our criminal defense lawyers can help you avoid jail time and/or a conviction whenever possible. We can evaluate the circumstances of your case and advise you of all possible defenses.
Consult Our Bethesda Disorderly Conduct Attorneys Today
At the Maryland criminal defense law firm of Alpert Schreyer, LLC, we know that misdemeanor charges and penalties can affect your life, including your finances and your future. You should always have the help of a criminal defense lawyer for any criminal charge, whether it is a misdemeanor or a felony. Please call (866) 444-6363 or contact us online to discuss your situation for free today.