How to Get Charged with Disorderly Conduct in California

Read on to see which activities are included under the California disorderly conduct laws.

Has a night out in San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter resulted in an arrest for disorderly conduct? Have you participated in protests or riots and ended up in handcuffs? Disorderly conduct arrests are common in the San Diego area, in part because there are a number of different activities that fall under the charge. 

Disorderly conduct, also referred to as disturbing the peace or breach of the peace, is a broad charge that can result in an infraction, misdemeanor or a felony. Most violations result in a misdemeanor charge and come with a fine of up to $1000 and/or up to six months in jail. However, if you have received multiple disorderly conduct charges in your past, your penalties may be even higher. 

Although broad in scope, a disorderly conduct charge essentially comes down to acting in such a way as to cause fear, offend, disrupt or prevent others from enjoying a public space. In the state of California, there are multiple different ways that you can get a disorderly conduct charge. Read on to see which activities are included under the California disorderly conduct laws. 

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How can I get a disorderly conduct charge in California? 

Lewd or Improper Sexual Conduct can include a number of crimes such as:

  • Soliciting or engaging in prostitution or acts of prostitution 
  • Soliciting or engaging in lewd or dissolute conduct in a public place
  • Loitering in or near a public restroom with the intention of soliciting others for lewd or unlawful acts 
  • Recording or peeping on others without their consent while they are using a dressing room or restroom
  • Unlawful lodging or loitering occurs when a person lives in a structure or on a property, whether private or public, without the express permission of the owner. This includes pitching a tent or living in a vehicle on private or public property without permission.

Drunk and disorderly conduct is perhaps the most frequent reason why someone gets a disorderly conduct charge in California. This charge can occur when a person is under the influence of drugs or alcohol and they act in a way that prevents them from controlling themselves or maintaining the safety of others. It can also include situations where a drunk or otherwise intoxicated person acts in such a way that interferes with the use of public spaces. 

Fighting, General Noisiness and Use of Offensive Language is separate from a “drunk and disorderly.” This offense includes fighting or soliciting a fight, creating an unreasonable amount of noise or using foul language that is disturbing to others.  

Rioting is also considered under this provision of the law. A riot is defined as “any use of force or violence, disturbing the public peace, or any threat to use force of violence, if accompanied by immediate power of execution, by two or more persons acting together, and without authority of law.”

Refusal to Disperse can go hand in hand with rioting, as it applies to those who assemble with the intent to disturb the peace and refuse to leave the area, even when ordered by law enforcement officials. 

What should I do if I am facing disorderly conduct charges in California? 

If you have been involved in any of the above activities and have been charged with a disorderly conduct violation, you must understand that you are likely facing a misdemeanor charge that can come with fines and jail time. Any time you are facing a misdemeanor charge in San Diego, you should consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney. Even if you think the charges are minor, you still face the possibility of penalties that can disrupt your life. 

Disorderly conduct charges should not be taken lightly. Your first step is to hire a defense attorney to help you understand the charges and work with you throughout the process. The legal system can be complicated. It is critical that you have a professional on your side who can devise your best defense so you can achieve a positive outcome. 

The Law Office of Joni Eisenstein has helped people facing disorderly conduct charges in the San Diego area for over 25 years. Her experience and tenacity have resulted in reduced or dropped charges for many of her clients. Contact criminal defense attorney Joni Eisenstein for a consultation and discussion about your particular case today. 

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