California Disturbing the Peace Law
Some states have a crime called disorderly conduct. California also has criminalized disorderly conduct, but here this crime is better known as “disturbing the peace.” Disturbing the peace is a misdemeanor crime; it is not as serious as a felony charge. However, any time you face jail time or a conviction on your record, it is extremely serious.
A conviction can come with serious collateral consequences beyond jail time and fines. It can affect your ability to obtain employment and housing, depending on the charge.
Employers and landlords that conduct background checks on you may see the charge and treat you unfavorably.
Read on to learn more about disturbing the peace.
What is Disturbing the Peace in California?
In California, the main statute criminalizing disturbing the peace is California Penal Code Section 415.
This statute criminalizes the following behaviors:
- Fighting in public or trying to start a fight in public
- Maliciously or willfully disturbing others with loud and unreasonable noise
- Using offensive words in public that are likely to provoke a reaction
Disturbing the peace is a catch-all crime that has the potential to be applied to many people each day. However, the statistics show it is not charged frequently.
For instance, in 2014, the Los Angeles County Sheriff arrested 2,413 people for driving under the influence and 2,660 people for aggravated assault. That same year, they only arrested 402 people for drunkenness and disorderly conduct.
There are almost certainly more instances of the peace being disturbed than there are aggravated assaults on a daily basis. However, law enforcement does not make arrests for disturbing the peace very often.
To be sure, the police in Los Angeles are too busy to deal with all of these cases, so they may issue warnings or citations instead of making an arrest.
Another common type of disturbing the peace is public intoxication, a violation of California Penal Code Section 647(f). Public intoxication applies to a person that is unable to care for themselves in public due to intoxication.
What are the Penalties for Disturbing the Peace in California?
Whether you are charged with disturbing the peace in violation of Section 415 or public Intoxication in violation of Section 647(f), you are facing a misdemeanor charge. Disturbing the peace is punishable by up to 90 days in the county jail and a $400 fine.
Public intoxication is also classified as a misdemeanor.
Misdemeanors are punishable by no more than one year in the county jail. In practice, you would not see a sentence anywhere near that severe for merely being intoxicated in public.
This crime is more likely to have a few days jail and a fine than a lengthy jail stay. Of course, every case is unique, and penalties vary greatly depending on your situation.
What Should I Do if I Am Accused of Disturbing the Peace?
If you have been accused of disorderly conduct or disturbing the peace you are facing a potential jail sentence. You have important constitutional rights that you may not be aware of. An experienced criminal defense lawyer can be extremely beneficial to you.
A has successfully defended hundreds of clients from accusations of disturbing the peace and disorderly conduct in the Los Angeles area.
They will fight for your rights, fight to prove your innocence, and negotiate for a dismissal or reduction in charges. Contact a lawyer today so they can get started fighting for you. It may be the best decision you can make.