In Pennsylvania, the crime of disorderly conduct is one of the most commonly charged offenses and covers a wide range of behavior. Unfortunately, otherwise law-abiding and respected individuals may face charges of disorderly conduct after a momentary lapse in judgment.
Adverse Consequences of a Disorderly Conduct Conviction
A conviction for disorderly conduct can have lifelong adverse effects on your personal and professional opportunities as well as your reputation and standing in your community. If you are facing disorderly conduct charges as a summary or misdemeanor offense, it is critical that you have a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney on your side.
I have over a decade of experience providing skilled and aggressive representation to individuals facing disorderly conduct charges in Bucks County, Montgomery County and the surrounding counties. Contact me at (215) 752-5282 for a free initial consultation or fill out the confidential contact form for an immediate response. Appointments are available after hours and on weekends.
Disorderly Conduct Defined
Disorderly conduct, under 18 Pa.C.S.A. § 5503, is defined in part as:
- A person is guilty of disorderly conduct if, with the intent to cause public inconvenience, annoyance or alarm, or recklessly creating a risk thereof, he or she:
- Engages in fighting or threatening, or in violent or tumultuous behavior; or
- Makes unreasonable noise; or
- Uses obscene language, or makes an obscene gesture; or
- Creates a hazardous or physically offensive condition by any act which serves no legitimate purpose of the actor
Common Examples of Disorderly Conduct Crimes
- Use of obscene or vulgar language
- Public drunkenness
- Participation in a loud party
- Bar fights
- Neighbor disputes
- Public urination
Grading of Disorderly Conduct Crimes
A more significant and sustained level of conduct is required for disorderly conduct to be graded as a misdemeanor of the 3rd degree. Under 18 Pa.C.S.A. § 5503(b), disorderly conduct is graded as a misdemeanor of the 3rd degree if:
- The intent of the person is to cause substantial harm or serious inconvenience; or
- The person persists in disorderly conduct after warning or request to desist
Otherwise, disorderly conduct is graded as a summary offense. I can determine whether the police or prosecutors have overcharged your case resulting in a higher graded offense. Certain types of conduct charged by the police as a 3rd degree misdemeanor offense may actually qualify as a lower graded summary offense under the law.
What Qualifies as Public under the Disorderly Conduct Law
Under 18 Pa. C.S.A. § 5503(c), public is defined as affecting or likely to affect persons in a place to which the public or a substantial group has access, including:
- Apartment houses
Penalties for Disorderly Conduct
The penalties for disorderly conduct vary depending on whether the individual has a prior criminal record and whether the charge is graded as a summary offense or a misdemeanor of the 3rd degree.
- 3rd degree misdemeanor
- Up to 1 year in jail
- Up to $2,500 in fines
- Summary Offense
- Up to 90 days in jail
- Up to $300 in fines
Disorderly Conduct Defenses
I will conduct a thorough examination of the facts and circumstances of your case to establish any weaknesses in the prosecutor’s case and to determine all available defenses to the charges. In some cases, I may be able have the charge dismissed by establishing that the conduct did not occur in a “public” place as required by the statute. In other cases, I may be able to achieve an acquittal or dismissal of the charge in court by proving that there was a legitimate purpose behind the behavior of the accused. Establishing that the police or eyewitnesses were mistaken in their identification of the accused can also provide a successful defense to a disorderly conduct charge.
Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) for Disorderly Conduct
In some cases, applying for admission into the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) program will provide the best resolution of the case. ARD is a program for first-time non-violent offenders. Individuals accepted into the ARD program will be placed on non-reporting probation, be required to pay court costs and restitution and be required to complete community service. I have extensive experience helping qualified candidates gain admission into the ARD program in Bucks County, Montgomery County and the surrounding counties.
Benefits of the ARD Program
Individuals who complete the requirements of the ARD program will have their charges dismissed. Individuals who successfully complete the ARD program are also eligible to have the records related to the case destroyed through the expungement process. Expungement of the records of the case will prevent the disorderly conduct charge from interfering with your future personal, professional and educational opportunities.
Applying for expungement of your records is a complicated process that involves court filings, the submission of background documentation and, often, an appearance at a court hearing. I can guide you through the expungement application process to ensure that you are in the best position for the court to grant the expungement request.
Expungement for Summary Disorderly Conduct
Individuals who have remained arrest free for 5 years following a conviction for a summary disorderly conduct charge may be eligible for expungement of the arrest records of the offense. The presence of even a minor summary disorderly conduct offense can make it difficult to find employment in many fields.
Most employers will conduct a background check on any prospective employee before a job offer is made. I am highly experienced in the summary expungement process in Bucks County, Montgomery County and the surrounding counties. I can help prevent a minor mistake from adversely affecting your future or the future of a loved one.
Criminal Record Seal
Individuals who are convicted of a disorderly conduct charge graded as a 3rd degree misdemeanor may be eligible for a criminal record seal of the records of the case. If the court grants the criminal record seal (also known as an Order of Limited Access), landlords, employers and other designated entities would not have access to the criminal records related to the disorderly conduct charge. A criminal record seal can protect your reputation and privacy and provide peace of mind. I can determine whether your case qualifies for a criminal record seal.
Start with a Strong Defense
If you have been charged with disorderly conduct in Bucks County, Montgomery County or the surrounding counties, it is critical to act quickly to protect your rights and build the strongest possible defense against the charges. Phone lines are open 24 hours a day at (215) 752-5282. Call today for a free initial consultation or fill out the confidential contact form for an immediate response.