Disorderly Conduct in Rhode Island

Under Rhode Island Criminal law, Disorderly Conduct may be found under Rhode Island General Laws, Section 11-15-1. This offense penalizes the conduct of knowingly, intentionally or recklessly committing acts which are of a nature to corrupt public morals or to outrage the sense of public decency or to affect the peace and quiet of persons who may witness it and who may be disturbed or provoked to resentment by it.

What Conduct or Acts are Prohibited for Purposes of this Crime

The law provides seven specific, mutually exclusive incidents of behavior that are prohibited and none of which are incorporated into the other. One can commit Disorderly Conduct by:

  1. engaging in fighting, threatening, violent or tumultuous behavior
  2. disturbing another person by making loud and unreasonable noise in a public place or near a private residence that he or she has no right to occupy
  3. using offensive words which are directed at another person in a public place and which are likely to provoke a violent reaction
  4. obstructing 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 ordinarily used for the passage of persons, vehicles, or conveyances
  5. engaging in conduct which obstructs or interferes physically with a lawful meeting, procession, or gathering
  6. 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
  7. looking through a window, or any other opening into an area in which another would have a reasonable expectation of privacy, for lascivious purposes, without the knowledge or consent of the individual

What are the Legal Elements for Disorderly Conduct

In order to be convicted of Disorderly Conduct, there must exist strong evidence of the following legal elements:

  1. that the defendant engaged in the specific acts or conduct alleged
  2. the defendant did so knowingly, intentionally or recklessly

The legal elements will depend on which of the seven incidents or behavior is charged against the defendant. For example, if the defendant is charged with knowingly, intentionally or recklessly engaging in tumultuous behavior, the defendant must have been acting in such a manner as to cause a commotion, disturbance or agitation of a multitude; in essence, the conduct created an uproar.

Potential Punishment if Convicted of Disorderly Conduct in Rhode Island

Under Rhode Island law, a conviction for Disorderly Conduct is a misdemeanor and the defendant shall be sentenced to a term in prison of not more than six months. 

This penalty may be found at Rhode Island General Laws, Section 11-45-1. Additionally, if the Disorderly Conduct was committed against a family or household member, the defendant may face Domestic Violence consequences on top of the Disorderly Conduct punishment. This penalty may be found at Rhode Island General Laws, Section 12-29-5.


If you have been charged with a disorderly conduct offense and need representation, contact the Rhode Island Criminal Defense Attorneys at the Law Office of John L. Calcagni III by email or call today at (401) 351-5100 to schedule a free consultation.