Defending against Disorderly Conduct Charges in Bowie, Maryland
You have likely heard of the criminal offense of disorderly conduct, but might not know exactly what it entails. If you suddenly find yourself under arrest and facing charges of disorderly conduct, you may not even fully understand the charges or how to defend against them. Each state has different definitions of disorderly conduct and different elements required for a conviction. You need the assistance of a highly experienced Maryland criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible.
At Alpert Schreyer, LLC, we regularly represent clients facing a wide variety of criminal charges, from misdemeanors to violent felonies. If you have a case in Maryland criminal court, call our skilled disorderly conduct defense lawyers for help right away.
What Constitutes Disorderly Conduct in Maryland?
Disorderly conduct is a misdemeanor charge, also commonly referred to as disturbing the peace. As you can imagine, a person may disturb the peace in many different ways, so what constitutes disorderly conduct under Maryland state law can confuse anyone. The truth is, authorities may accuse a person of criminally disturbing the peace in several different scenarios.
Examples of disorderly conduct under Maryland law:
- Making unreasonably loud noise that willfully disturbs the peace of others, on their own private property or in a public place
- Entering the private property of another and willfully making loud noises or engaging in conduct that disturbs the landowner or lessee
- Acting in a disorderly manner that disturbs the public peace
- Failing to obey a lawful and reasonable order by a police officer intended to prevent a public peace disturbance, such as an order to move along
- Willfully hindering another person’s free passage in a public place or on a public conveyance without lawful justification
- In Worchester County, building a bonfire on a beach between the hours of 1 a.m and 5 a.m
As you can see, disorderly conduct can occur on both private properties or in a public place. For the purposes of the law, public places include:
- Public buildings
- Public streets or sidewalks
- Public parking lots
- Public parks
- Common areas of apartment or condo buildings with at least four units
- Public amusement areas, including golf courses, pools, theaters, sports arenas, or amusement parks
- Hotels or motels
- School buildings
- Places of worship
- Bus stations, rail stations, airport terminals, subway stations, and similar areas
An act must disturb or annoy others to qualify as disorderly conduct. For example, someone who is drunk and yelling in a secluded place where no one else can hear should not constitute disorderly conduct. Conduct, however, can disturb or annoy police officers, so if officers claim disturbance or annoyance, they may arrest you even if no one else is around.
You may also face charges for disorderly conduct if you allegedly refused to leave any type of public place. If you had no lawful business in that place and someone with authority asked you to leave, police may arrest you if you fail to do so.
In Maryland, public intoxication is not a crime in itself, unless you also disturb someone else or the public. However, disorderly conduct charges often arise from situations involving alcohol.
- Starting or participating in an altercation or fight
- Yelling or making loud noises
- Harassing others who pass by
- Making noise late at night
- Holding a loud party
- Behaving unruly at a sporting event
If you are drunk and quietly sitting on a bench, you are doing nothing wrong under the law unless you also make some type of disturbance according to authorities.
Picketing & Assembly
Peaceful protesting and picketing are not illegal activities, as long as they do not disturb the public peace. Protest and picket groups should always remain orderly and should avoid targeting private homes or businesses or affecting traffic. Such behaviors may constitute harassment, annoyance, or disturbances that may lead to disorderly conduct arrests. One main exception to this rule is when a labor dispute results in a picket of a specific business or a home that also serves as a place of business.
You can also hold public meetings in places that people would normally use for this purpose. However, police officers have a history of making disorderly conduct arrests during public meetings or protests, even if no one acts unlawfully.
Defending against Bowie Disorderly Conduct Allegations
Disorderly conduct allegations may result in the following for a first offense:
- Misdemeanor conviction on your record
- $500 fine
- 60 days in jail
You may also face collateral consequences of a conviction that could cause you to lose your job, security clearances, professional licenses, educational opportunities, and more.
A thin line can separate conduct that is criminal or not. Often, whether conduct rises to the level of a criminal offense is left to the discretion of police officers, making disorderly conduct an extremely subjective offense in many situations. The right attorney can identify when certain behavior should not lead to an arrest or a criminal conviction and can work for the dismissal of your charges. At Alpert Schreyer, LLC, we also do everything in our power to help clients avoid jail time, negotiating other options for a charge or sentence reduction with prosecutors.
Consult Our Bowie Disorderly Conduct Defense Lawyers Right Away
While disorderly conduct and disturbing the peace may seem like minor offenses, hire a qualified defense team to represent you if you face these charges. You can face more lasting consequences from any type of criminal conviction than you might imagine, so prevent a conviction when you can. The Bowie criminal defense attorneys at Alpert Schreyer, LLC, handle cases involving disorderly conduct and may help you.