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 individuals may face a charge of disorderly conduct due to a momentary lapse in judgment or, more commonly: a false accusation. As an experienced PA disorderly conduct defense attorney, I can help you fight the charge.
A Disorderly Conduct Conviction Can Hurt Your Future
A conviction for disorderly conduct can have lifelong adverse effects on your personal and professional opportunities, reputation, and standing in your community. Above all, if you are facing disorderly conduct charges as a summary or misdemeanor offense, you must have a hard-edged criminal defense attorney on your side.
Contact a Bucks County Disorderly Conduct Lawyer
I have over a decade of experience fighting for individuals facing disorderly conduct charges in Bucks County, Montgomery County, Chester County, Delaware County, and the surrounding Pennsylvania 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.
PA Disorderly Conduct
Under the PA Crimes Code, a person is guilty of disorderly conduct if, with the intent to cause public inconvenience, annoyance or alarm, or recklessly creating a risk thereof, a person does any of the following:
- Engages in fighting or threatening, or violent or tumultuous behavior
- Makes unreasonable noise
- Uses obscene language or makes an obscene gesture
- Creates a hazardous or physically offensive condition by any act which serves no legitimate purpose
What is Considered a Public Place Under the Disorderly Conduct Law?
Pennsylvania law requires a disorderly conduct crime to occur in a public place. Under the Pennsylvania disorderly conduct statute, typical examples of public places include:
- Apartment houses
- Public or residential sidewalks
What is Disorderly Conduct in PA?
Pennsylvania disorderly conduct crimes cover a broad range of conduct, including:
- Using obscene or vulgar language in a public setting
- Public drunkenness
- Participating in a loud public party
- Loitering in public
- Engaging in a bar fight in a public area
- Getting into a verbal or physical dispute with your neighbor
- Urinating in public
What is the Difference Between a Summary and Misdemeanor Disorderly Conduct?
More severe behavior is required for the police to charge disorderly conduct as a misdemeanor of the 3rd degree. A Pennsylvania disorderly conduct crime will be charged as a misdemeanor of the 3rd degree if:
- The person intends to cause substantial harm or serious inconvenience; or
- The person persists in disorderly conduct after a warning or a request to stop
Otherwise, the police will charge disorderly conduct as a summary offense. I can determine whether the police or prosecutors have overcharged your case resulting in a higher-graded misdemeanor crime. Certain types of behavior may qualify as a lower-graded summary offense.
What is the Penalty for Disorderly Conduct in PA?
The penalties for disorderly conduct vary. The prosecutor will consider whether you have a prior criminal record and whether the police graded the crime as a summary or misdemeanor offense. The penalties for disorderly conduct are as follows:
- 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
Should I Get a Lawyer for Disorderly Conduct?
Yes. Unfortunately, most non-lawyers will not be familiar with the rules of evidence, courtroom procedures, and available legal defenses to a disorderly conduct crime. As a result, you are less likely to get the charges dropped, dismissed, or receive a not guilty verdict from a judge or jury.
How to Beat a Disorderly Conduct Charge
I will thoroughly examine 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. Some of the most effective ways I attack a disorderly conduct charge include:
- Proving the alleged crime did not occur in a public place
- Establishing that accused had a legitimate purpose for their actions
- Demonstrating that a witness or witnesses misidentified the accused
- Proving that the accused was acting in self-defense
- Showing that the accused’s behavior does not meet the legal standard for disorderly conduct
Non-Trial Options for Disorderly Conduct Cases in PA
Pennsylvania offers several first-offender programs that divert your disorderly conduct case outside the criminal justice system. Most importantly, if you complete the program’s conditions, a judge will dismiss your charges and order the expungement of your record.
Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD)
In some cases, applying for admission into the ARD program will provide the best resolution of the matter. ARD is a program for first-time non-violent offenders. The district attorney will decide if you qualify for ARD.
If approved for ARD, you will be placed on probation, be required to pay court costs, avoid new criminal charges, and complete community service. I have extensive experience helping people gain admission into the ARD program in Bucks County, Montgomery County, Chester County, Delaware County, and the nearby Pennsylvania Counties.
Bucks County Community Accountability Program (CAP)
The magisterial district courts in Bucks County offer the Community Accountability Program (CAP) to people charged with low-level misdemeanor and summary offenses, including disorderly conduct.
CAP participants must admit to their charges and appear before a community panel of volunteer citizens. The Panel may require that the participant complete community service, write a letter of apology, or complete another task related to the individual’s rehabilitation.
The court will dismiss all of the charges when all of the CAP requirements are complete. Also, the district attorney will expunge the case records once the district court judge provides proof that the person has finished CAP.
Youth Aid Panel for Disorderly Conduct
Most Pennsylvania Counties administer a Youth Aid Panel (YAP) through the local police department or county prosecutor’s office. The Youth Aid Panel is a diversion program designed for juveniles charged with minor criminal offenses such as disorderly conduct.
If approved for YAP, the juvenile and parents will appear before a panel of community volunteer members. The Panel will provide the child with an opportunity to explain the circumstances of the incident. Afterward, the Panel will give the child assignments to encourage accountability and rehabilitation.
The Panel will schedule an exit interview with the juvenile once the assignments are complete. The magisterial district court judge or prosecutor will dismiss the case once the Panel provides proof that the child completed the conditions of YAP.
Can Disorderly Conduct be Expunged?
Individuals who have paid their court costs and have remained arrest free for 5 years following a conviction for a summary disorderly conduct charge are eligible for expungement of their case records. Completing a criminal record expungement is essential for most people because the presence of even a minor summary disorderly conduct offense can make it challenging to find employment in many fields.
Most employers will conduct a background check on prospective employees before making a job offer. I have extensive experience in the admission and filing process for summary criminal record expungement in suburban Pennsylvania Counties. I can help prevent a minor mistake from interfering with your future professional and personal goals.
Montgomery County Disorderly Conduct Lawyer
Don’t let a disorderly conduct charge damage your future opportunities. My criminal defense practice covers Montgomery County, Bucks County, Chester County, Delaware County, and the immediate Pennsylvania Counties. 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.