Disorderly conduct is one of the more common charges filed in New York City. It is a vague charge that is often used to keep the peace in communities by limiting the conduct of individuals. If someone interacts with the police and finds that they are not free to leave, the charge will likely be disorderly conduct. It can result from a police officer simply not liking their attitude but who is unable to charge them with a crime.
What Exactly is Disorderly Conduct?
Disorderly conduct can usually be defined as any conduct that is like to breach the peace. For example, a drunken and rambunctious group of people may be prosecuted for disorderly conduct if they engage in behavior that is likely to alarm or annoy others. They may also be prosecuted if they are deemed likely to cause public inconvenience, according to the New York Disorderly Conduct Statute. The Disorderly Conduct Statute may be applied to any of the following activities:
• Making noise that a police officer deems unreasonable
• Fighting or exhibiting threatening behavior
• Using language deemed to be abusive or obscene or making obscene gestures in public places
• Gathering with others in a public place and refusing to obey the lawful command of the police to disperse
What Happens After a Disorderly Conduct Charge?
When a police officer charges an individual with disorderly conduct, they will give them a summons that orders them to appear in criminal court within two months. If they fail to appear before a judge on the correct date, a bench warrant will be issued for their arrest. The officer may also arrest an individual for disorderly conduct if they do not have identification or if the person has an open criminal case.
About Disorderly Conduct Law
By New York law (Section 240.20 of the Penal Law), disorderly conduct is considered a “violation” rather than a crime. The person may be punished with up to 15 days in jail or a $250 fine, or a combination of both jail time and a fine.
Many Misdemeanor and Felony Charges are Eventually Reduced to a Disorderly Conduct Charge
New York Prosecutors often offer a disorderly conduct instead of a misdemeanor when the defendant does not have much of a criminal record. Lawyers may also request it in the attempt find a compromise between a misdemeanor and an Adjournment in Contemplation of Dismissal (ACD) or an outright dismissal. Many individuals believe that because the disorderly conduct is a violation and not a crime, it will be sealed. The truth is that only the arrest records will be sealed, not the court file. The original charge that was reduced to the disorderly conduct charge will therefore still be available to anyone who checks their background. With the right legal representation, a defendant may be able to get a reduction to an ACD. With an ACD, their records will be completely sealed.
When an individual is charged with disorderly conduct, it is a good idea for them to plead not guilty. Many judges and prosecutors are lenient towards this charge and will often reduce or dismiss it altogether. Anyone who has received a summons and who is unable to be in court on the court date should hire an attorney. A lawyer with experience in disorderly conduct cases can review the court copy of the summons from the clerk of court. That copy will have more information than the one given by the police officer. The lawyer can appear in court on behalf of their client and negotiate the charge to get it dismissed with no need for the client to go to court.