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What Does Disorderly Conduct Really Mean?

Posted on : June 22, 2020, By:  Tom Kokonowski, Esq.

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts has laws in place that prohibit individuals from being “disorderly,” or engaging in disorderly behavior. However, what does and does not constitute disorderly is largely up to the discretion of the arresting officer. 

Without clear definitions of what disorderly conduct is, officers can make arrests at liberty. Here’s what you need to know about disorderly behavior and how to fight criminal charges of disorderly conduct. 

Examples of Disorderly Conduct or Disturbing the Peace 

There are many things that can be considered “disturbing the peace” and a disorderly conduct charge is often used as a “catch all” to arrest individuals who may be disruptive but not necessarily be breaking the law. Here are some of the most common examples of disorderly conduct in Massachusetts. 

  • Public fighting
  • Public intoxication
  • Falsely reporting child abuse or domestic violence
  • Urinating or defecating in public
  • Falsely calling 911
  • Looking inside another person’s dwelling for an unlawful purpose
  • Falsely reporting to the Department of Public Health
  • Falsely reporting a crime to police

Defenses Against Disorderly Conduct Charges 

There are many defenses against charges of disorderly conduct or disturbing the peace, including but not limited to arguing that: 

  • The action considered disorderly was not a disturbance or unlawful in any way. 
  • There is not enough available evidence to support a charge of disorderly conduct. 
  • There was a misunderstanding or miscommunication and no disorderly behavior actually occurred, such as in the case of a reported fight. 
  • The defendant had no knowledge or reason to believe that their behavior was disturbing the peace, such as in a case of a mentally ill individual.
  • The defendant was not engaging in disorderly behavior but was merely practicing their right to freedom of speech under the First Amendment. 
  • The defendant acted in self-defense of actual or perceived threat of harm. 
  • The defendant was falsely accused of disorderly conduct or their identity was mistaken and they are not the individual who should be charged. 

Should You Contact a Criminal Defense Attorney? 

If you were arrested on a disorderly conduct charge, you should absolutely refer to a criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. Although disorderly conduct seems like a minor charge, it can still impact your life in many ways, including making it more difficult for you to get a job. 

Get Help Today

A criminal defense attorney can help you fight the allegations against you and protect your rights under Massachusetts law. Call Thomas Kokonowski for a consultation today at 413-737-9700.