Disorderly conduct charges are one of the most common offenses faced by individuals in Massachusetts because these charges can arise in a number of situations ranging from late night disputes to bar fights. Many times, disorderly conduct charges arise from relatively minor offenses but the penalties can still be significant, particularly when a person has previously been charged with the crime. As a result, many people who are charged with disorderly conduct find it particularly helpful to obtain the assistance of a skilled criminal defense attorney.
What Constitutes Disorderly Conduct?
Massachusetts defines disorderly conduct as engaging in any type of noisy behavior, fighting, creating excessive noise, or any other form of disruptive conduct. Laws in the state of Massachusetts define disorderly conduct as including annoying another individual with offensive or threatening behavior, disturbing the peace, engaging in lewd behavior of speech in a public area, indecent exposure, participating in a riot and refusing to disperse, and prostitution.
Disorderly conduct charges are rarely made against actions that occur inside a person’s house, but if conduct that occurs in a house ends up in a public area, then a person could still end up facing disorderly conduct charges?
People also often wonder how the “freedom of speech” right afforded by the United States Constitution’s First Amendment applies to disorderly conduct. Sometimes, words fall outside of the protection offered by the Constitution. “Fighting words” or words that provoke people to violence are capable being a form of disorderly conduct. Using swear words alone, however, does not constitute disorderly conduct.
If a person is convicted of disorderly conduct for the first time, he or she will likely be required to only pay a fine. Subsequent convictions, however, can result in individuals facing both fines and a maximum of six months in jail. Additionally, individuals might receive probation as part of their sentencing requirement.
Common Defenses to Charges of Disorderly Conduct
There are a variety of defenses available to respond to charges of disorderly conduct. A person is often able to argue self defense if the disorderly conduct in question was done so that the person could protect him or herself. If the disorderly conduct charge was related to making unreasonable noise, a person is sometimes able to argue that he or she had the right to do so. Also, in disorderly conduct charges, individuals are sometimes able to point out that the conduct in question is only disagreeable if it occurred in public and the offense in question actually occurred in a private area. A Massachusetts criminal defense attorney is often able to analyze a person’s case and determine how to best respond.
Speak with a Skilled Criminal Defense Lawyer
If you have been charged with disorderly conduct or any other offense, it is a wise idea to quickly contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer. Edward R. Molari, Attorney at Law, has experience helping individuals navigate disorderly conduct charges and either drop or greatly reduce the penalties associated with these charges. Contact our law office today to schedule an initial free consultation.