Most people in California have at least heard of the term "disorderly conduct." It's a common charge police use when someone is considered a public nuisance but not in a way that presents a serious danger to other individuals. Some law enforcement officials default to this charge when someone is exhibiting unruly conduct. This may be the case if an individual is intoxicated or disturbing the peace.
The specific requirements for disorderly conduct can vary. Some states require proof of an intent to create a public inconvenience or annoyance while others require prosecutors to prove that someone intentionally acted disorderly. Possible penalties for this charge often depend on the nature of the conduct that was considered disorderly. If the offense was minor, for example, the accused individual may only receive a citation requiring the payment of a fine. If the behavior is more dangerous or disruptive, bail may be set and jail time might be sought.
Typically, disorderly conduct is a misdemeanor offense. However, there are times when certain behaviors are serious enough to warrant additional felony charges. In some instances, someone bothered by another individual's disorderly behavior can simply ask them to stop. If the situation escalates, however, police officers might get involved. Law enforcement officials may initially issue a fair warning for the person to stop their actions. In serious cases, police can file charges.
While it may be tempting to automatically plead guilty to disorderly conduct charges, a misdemeanor defense lawyer could provide different legal advice to a defendant. For example, legal counsel might attempt to have charges dismissed entirely if the incident was minor.