If you were charged with disorderly conduct over the New Year holiday, you may be feeling blindsided and confused by your charges. Rest assured you’re not alone.
In 2016, the state of Texas had 9,520 convictions for disorderly conduct. Of those convictions, 8,203 were for adults and 1,317 were for juveniles. Juvenile males were convicted for 59 percent of the juvenile crimes. Adult males committed 75 percent of the adult crimes. The age group with the highest incidents of disorderly conduct was 25-29 years, for both males and females.
In this post, we’ll help you understand the law so that you are aware of what you should do next and how you can fight your charges.
Disorderly Conduct Charges in Texas
The state of Texas has many different laws that punish disorderly conduct. The behaviors punishable by law generally include those that disrupt public peace through offensive, annoying, upsetting, or disturbing means. You can be charged with disorderly conduct for sounding a false alarm, exposing yourself in public, getting involved in a brawl, or protesting a funeral, to name a few examples.
Generally speaking, a charge will fit into one of the following classifications:
Offensive, abusive, or vulgar language used in a public place: Class C misdemeanor
Loud and unreasonable noises: Class C misdemeanor
Making silent or abusive 911 calls: Class B misdemeanor
Harassment by phone or other electronic communication: Class B misdemeanor
Making an offensive gesture in public: Class C misdemeanor
Threatening or abusing another individual in public: Class C misdemeanor
Indecent exposure in public: Class C misdemeanor
Fighting in public: Class C misdemeanor
Obstructing a highway, street, or sidewalk: Class B misdemeanor
Noxious odors from chemically-based agents that are released in public: Class C misdemeanor
Loud noises in a public place: Class C misdemeanor
Discharging a firearm unlawfully: Class C misdemeanor, Class B misdemeanor, or Class A misdemeanor
Rioting: Class B misdemeanor
Peeping into another person’s personal property or hotel room: Class C misdemeanor
Peeping into a public changing room, shower, or restroom: Class C misdemeanor
Attending or participating in cockfights or dogfights: Class C misdemeanor or state jail felony
Cruelty to livestock: State jail felony
Cruelty to wild or domestic animals: Class A misdemeanor or state jail felony
Injuring an assistance animal: State jail felony
Killing an assistance animal: Third degree felony
Public intoxication: Class C misdemeanor
Shining a laser pointer at an officer: Class C misdemeanor
Directing intense light at an aircraft: Class C misdemeanor
Disrupting meetings, processions, or funerals: Class B misdemeanor
Displaying a firearm in public with an intent to incite alarm: Class A misdemeanor
Sounding a false alarm: Class A misdemeanor
Interfering with emergency assistance: Class A misdemeanor
Burning a Texas state or federal flag: Class A misdemeanor
Mishandling a human corpse: Class A misdemeanor
Stalking: Third degree felony
The Penalties of a Texas Disorderly Conduct Conviction
If the charge is a Class C misdemeanor, it carries a fine of up to $500. A Class B misdemeanor includes up to 180 days in jail, a fine of up to $2,000, or both. A Class A misdemeanor includes up to one year in jail, up to $4,000 in fines, or both.
If the charge is a state jail felony, a conviction will mean 180 to 240 days in state prison and a fine of up to $10,000. If the charge is a third degree felony, a conviction can mean up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
Juveniles under the of age 12 cannot be prosecuted for disorderly conduct that occurred at public school during school hours, but they can be prosecuted for disorderly conduct in other public places.
Don’t Hesitate to Seek Legal Assistance
You may not think that a misdemeanor charge carries much significance. However, if you are sentenced to the law’s full extent, you could face significant jail time, fees, and a lengthy probation. Your ability to secure employment, housing, and loans could be negatively impacted. Also, if you ever commit another crime, your record of a misdemeanor conviction could mean heavier penalties for reoffending. That’s why you need a skilled Fort Worth criminal attorney to build a solid defense for you.
Several defenses may be within your reach. You may be able to argue self-defense, your right to free speech, or insufficient evidence, depending on your charges. If you discharged a firearm in public to protect yourself or others from a dangerous animal, you may have a solid defense. Call today to set up a free initial consultation.
About the Author:
After getting his Juris Doctor from the University of Houston Law Center, Jeff Hampton began practicing criminal law in Texas in 2005. Before becoming a defense attorney, he worked as a prosecutor for the Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office – experience he uses to anticipate and cast doubt on the arguments that will be used against his clients. Over the course of his career, he has helped countless Texans protect their rights and get the best possible outcome in their criminal cases. His skill has earned him recognition from the National Trial Lawyers (Top 100 Trial Lawyers) and Avvo (Top Attorney in Criminal Defense, Top Attorney in DUI & DWI, 10/10 Superb Rating), and he is Lead Counsel rated.