An Explanation of Disorderly Conduct in Arizona

Arizona ARS Disorderly Conduct Charges

If you cause a disturbance and law enforcement is summoned to the scene, you will likely be charged with disorderly conduct. This is a catch-all charge as the state does not have specific penalties for public intoxication or drunk and disorderly. Most other states consider public intoxication and drunk and disorderly as minor offenses. However, the state of Arizona considers this misbehavior as a class 1 misdemeanor. The potential penalty for being found guilty of such a misdemeanor is six months in jail, a $2,500 fine, and three years of probation. Though disorderly conduct might not seem like a big deal based on what you might have heard or seen on TV, you will still need an experienced criminal defense attorney to avoid or minimize your penalty.

Disorderly Conduct Specifics in Arizona

Arizona’s law 13-2904 explains exactly what disorderly conduct is. The law is quite broad in scope, empowering police officers to detain those who behave in a manner that causes disruption. The law states disorderly conduct occurs when an individual intends to disturb the quiet or peace of a neighborhood, person, or family. Activity ranging from an unreasonable noise level to violent behavior, recklessly handling a deadly or dangerous instrument, failing to obey dispersal orders in the event of an emergency, or creating a commotion that precludes public activity all qualify as disorderly conduct.

Even abusive or obscene language meant to provoke another individual constitutes disorderly conduct. In short, the law was written with such broad language to serve the public’s best interest and remove those who might pose a threat or cause additional misconduct.

ARS Disorderly Conduct Charges in Arizona

The title is not meant to be a joke. In all reality, getting a disorderly conduct charge is not all that difficult, especially if the police do not know what else to go with. There are plenty of reasons a person could be charged with disorderly conduct, and we will look at the law and some examples in a moment.

We do want to say this – just because you may not think a disorderly conduct charge sounds serious does not mean it cannot have serious consequences. If you are here today because you or someone you know is facing disorderly conduct charges, we advise you to seek help from a qualified Arizona defense attorney. These charges can stain your reputation, and it is in your best interest to fight them in court.

What The Law Says

A.R.S. 13-2904 defines disorderly conduct as:

A person commits disorderly conduct if, with intent to disturb the peace or quiet of a neighborhood, family, or person, or with knowledge of doing so, such person:

  1. Engages in fighting, violent or seriously disruptive behavior; or
  2. Makes unreasonable noise; or
  3. Uses abusive or offensive language or gestures to any person present in a manner likely to provoke immediate physical retaliation by such person; or
  4. Makes any protracted commotion, utterance, or display with the intent to prevent the transaction of the business of a lawful meeting, gathering or procession; or
  5. Refuses to obey a lawful order to disperse issued to maintain public safety in dangerous proximity to a fire, a hazard, or any other emergency; or
  6. Recklessly handles, displays, or discharges a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument.

Okay, digesting that is hard because you can see just how many scenarios can put you in violation of the law. Not only does it cover a range of physical violence, but you can see that many non-physical factors can also land you in jail.

Unreasonable noise?

Offensive language or gestures?

It is easy to see how law enforcement can justify arresting someone for disorderly conduct. The law gives them plenty of discretion.

Possible Scenarios

We can imagine and have dealt with many scenarios regarding people being charged with disorderly conduct.

  • You are at a bar with some friends, and you get into an argument with another group in the bar over the game on TV. It gets loud; you tell the guy to…well…let’s say your language could have been better. This could land you a disorderly conduct charge, even if you never got violent.
  • You and a group are protesting a government action or inaction, which should be your right to do under the US Constitution. However, a business owner claims you are preventing him from conducting normal business operations. Suddenly, you find yourself with a disorderly conduct charge.

We could go on, but you see the point. It is easy to get a disorderly conduct charge.

The Penalties

The penalties for a disorderly conduct charge in Arizona can be severe. Usually, these charges will result in a Class 1 Misdemeanor. This could lead to a maximum of 6 months in jail, up to a $2,500 fine, and probation.

These charges could also result in a Class 6 Felony charge with much more serious consequences. This carries a possible two-year prison sentence for a non-dangerous offense and up to three years for a dangerous offense.

It is Possible to Beat a Disorderly Conduct Charge

Everything you say while you are in the custody of police following the event that spurred the charge has the potential to be used against you in a court of law. When in doubt, remain silent, state you would like to speak with your attorney, and that you will consider speaking to law enforcement when your attorney is present. The bottom line is you have the right to remain silent even if police appear to have evidence that you disturbed the peace and are guilty of disorderly conduct.

Though the details provided above might make it seem as though it is nearly impossible to beat a disorderly conduct charge, it is possible with the assistance of a savvy attorney. Find an attorney willing to review all the subtleties of the evidence of your case and personalize a legal strategy specifically for you. The overarching aim should be reducing or dropping the charges to prevent jail time. Keep in mind Arizona considers disorderly conduct to be a serious offense, meaning it spurs a permanent arrest record, so it is in your interest to put up a fight. If you do not have a criminal record, it might be possible to negotiate with the court to prevent jail time and a criminal record.

Time is of the essence after you are charged with disorderly conduct in Arizona. Connect with an attorney as soon as possible, and this professional will have that much more opportunity to create the best possible legal strategy based on the facts of the case. Be patient, let the legal process play out with the assistance of your attorney, and your attorney might get the charges reduced or even dropped.

The Best Path Forward

The first thing to focus on if you have been charged with disorderly conduct is finding a defense attorney in Arizona who understands the laws and can formulate a strategy to dismiss the charges. There is too much at stake, even beyond the prescribed penalties. Your reputation, ability to get a job, and more can all be affected by a disorderly conduct charge.

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