Disorderly conduct is a general offense which can be applied to a variety of situations, such as getting into a physical altercation at a bar, or leaving your trash in a public park. Even seemingly harmless behavior could result in an arrest. Examples of actions which may result in such a charge have included use of offensive language, “cat calling” members of the opposite sex, indecent exposure and loitering.
If you have been charged with disorderly conduct, that means the Commonwealth has to prove that:
1. you were involved in at least one of the following actions: a. engaged in fighting or threatening; b. engaged in violent or tumultuous behavior; or c. created a hazardous or physically offensive condition by an act that served no legitimate purpose of the defendant’s;
2. your actions were reasonably likely to affect the public; and
3. you either intentionally or recklessly created a public inconvenience, annoyance or alarm Generally, for a charge of disorderly conduct to stand based on offensive language, the language would have to amount to “fighting words” that tend to incite riotous or violent behavior.
The use of merely vulgar language alone does not constitute disorderly conduct. The actions in question generally also have to occur at a public location. Therefore, behavior occurring in your own home cannot typically amount to disorderly conduct. However, there are exceptions, especially in the case of a house party which has spilled out onto the street.
The penalty in Massachusetts is a misdemeanor crime punishable by up to 6 months of jail time or a fine of up to $200.00
In Massachusetts there are legal defense to the charge of disorderly conduct. A criminal attorney can help you with the defense that will lead to best outcome. Possible defenses to disorderly conduct include a first amendment defense. which protects your freedom of speech. This would come into play if your charge was based on language that, although might involve profanities, did not amount to “fighting words” that would tend to incite a breach of the peace. Additionally, for disorderly conduct charges based on a “hazardous or physically offensive condition,” and you had legitimate reasons for your actions, you are not guilt or committing disorderly conduct. Just by acting in a way that a police officer perceives as annoying is not disorderly conduct.
Massachusetts Criminal Lawyer
Patrick Donovan is a criminal defense attorney in Massachusetts who strives to be the best criminal attorney. Attorney Donovan is a former assistant district attorney. Attorney Donovan uses that experience to help each client get the best possible result. If you or someone you know has been charged with disorderly conduct call today for a free no obligation consultation.
Attorney Donovan has experience in over courts in Massachusetts including Boston Federal Court, Suffolk Superior Court, District Court.
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