Disorderly conduct is a charge that occurs more often than people think. When any situation gets out of hand, someone is likely to call law enforcement for assistance. There’s always a good chance that at least one individual involved with be charged with disorderly conduct. While the term is widely used, most people are unsure of how to accurately define disorderly conduct. If it seems vague or confusing, that’s because it is in most cases. If you’d like to know more about disorderly conduct in Rhode Island, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we explain what disorderly conduct is, what the penalties are, and common criminal defenses.
What is Disorderly Conduct in Rhode Island?
One of the reasons why disorderly conduct is hard to define is because it includes a vast range of different offensive actions and behaviors. However, disorderly conduct in Rhode Island can be broken down into categories that can help you understand what it is. The Rhode Island Code Chapter (11-11 Disorderly Conduct) states that:
A person commits disorderly conduct if he or she intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly:
- Engages in fighting or threatening, or in violent or tumultuous behavior;
- In a public place or near a private residence that he or she has no right to occupy, disturbs another person by making loud and unreasonable noise which under the circumstances would disturb a person of average sensibilities; Provoking someone with offensive words in a public space;
- Directs at another person in a public place offensive words which are likely to provoke a violent reaction on the part of the average person;
- Alone or with others, obstructs a highway, street, sidewalk, railway, waterway, building entrance, elevator, aisle, stairway, or hallway to which the public or a substantial group of the public has access or any other place ordinary used for the passage of persons, vehicles, or conveyances;
- Engages in conduct which obstructs or interferes physically with a lawful meeting, procession, or gathering;
- Enters upon the property of another and for a lascivious purpose looks into an occupied dwelling or other building on the property through a window or other opening;
- Without the knowledge or consent of the individual, looks for a lascivious purpose through a window, or any other opening into an area in which another would have a reasonable expectation of privacy (e.g. restroom, locker room, shower, dressing room, or bedroom).
This legal definition of disorderly conduct in Rhode Island can sound confusing or ambiguous. However, it sheds some light on the types of behaviors that can be classified as “disorderly”. Police officers will often turn to a disorderly conduct offense when there is a civil disruption, but there’s no significant danger to the public.
What Are the Penalties for Disorderly Conduct in Rhode Island?
Disorderly conduct or disturbing the peace charges are often minor with small fines or citations. However, your charges can become more complicated depending on the severity of your circumstances. For instance, if someone was injured or your behavior caused major property damage, you could face harsher penalties. You can also face harsher penalties if you’re facing your second or third disorderly conduct offense charge. As far as basic disorderly conduct penalties in Rhode Island go, any person found guilty can be imprisoned for no more than six months and fined no more than $500. You might face one or both of these penalties at various levels.
Common Defenses of Disorderly Conduct
There are multiple lines of criminal defenses that could be used in a disorderly conduct charge. Of course, acting out of self-defense is a common explanation of violent behavior. Defending yourself in a threatening situation is often cited in cases. However, depending on the circumstances, there are various avenues to building a defense. For instance, involuntary intoxication could also be used. If you were placed into a situation where someone drugged you and you weren’t in control of your actions, this could also be a line of defense. In addition, many people will act out in extraordinary ways when they’re placed in an emergency situation. If you were charged with disorderly conduct, but your behavior was to prevent or assist in an emergency, this could be a line of defense as well. It’s important to share as many details as possible with your criminal defense attorney in order to build your case.
For More Information on Disorderly Conduct in Rhode Island
If you’ve recently been charged with disorderly conduct, it’s important to contact a criminal defense attorney to understand your options. While most of these charges are minor, they can lead to harsher consequences depending on your situation. An experienced criminal defense attorney can help you assess your circumstances and provide the proper defense for your case. Call a criminal defense law firm today for more information.