Many people in Delaware County believe that because a conviction for disorderly conduct is often treated as a summary offense rather than misdemeanor criminal conviction, they do not need to take the offense seriously. However, a conviction for a summary offense will show up in criminal background checks and could interfere with employment opportunities, housing applications, and other aspects of life for years to come. Moreover, disorderly conduct can be treated as a crime in certain circumstances.
Accordingly, if you are facing charges for disorderly conduct, you owe it to yourself to learn all that you can about the potential ramifications and your options for defense. A Delaware County disorderly conduct lawyer could explain the charges and help you protect your rights. A tenacious criminal lawyer with experience handling disorderly conduct charges could also help minimize the impact on your record.
Disorderly conduct is defined in 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. §5503. The severity of the offense depends on the intent of the person charged and whether that person continues with disruptive conduct after being asked to stop.
Under the statute, a person in Delaware County may be considered guilty of disorderly conduct if they:
In order to be guilty, the person taking this action must be acting “with intent to cause public inconvenience, annoyance or alarm, or recklessly creating a risk thereof.” A Delaware County disorderly conduct lawyer could demonstrate that the person accused failed to act with the requisite intent or recklessness and therefore cannot be guilty of the offense.
Disorderly conduct may be treated as a criminal misdemeanor or as a summary offense depending on the circumstances. If the person accused acts with intent to cause “serious inconvenience” or “substantial harm,” then the conduct will be treated as a third-degree misdemeanor crime. Additionally, if a person persists in continuing disorderly conduct after being asked or warned to desist, then the conduct will be treated as a misdemeanor. The penalties for a third-degree misdemeanor include up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $2,500.
If none of those aggravating factors apply, the disorderly conduct may be treated as a summary offense. Although not technically a crime, a conviction for a summary offense establishes a criminal record. Courts may fine those convicted up to $300 and sentence them to up to three months in jail. An experienced attorney could review the evidence and help individuals avoid the consequences of a conviction.
One key element of the offense of disorderly conduct is the intent to cause public inconvenience, annoyance, or alarm (or recklessly creating a risk of such inconvenience). 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. §5503 defines the term “public” for purposes of this offense.
The statute explains that an incident will be considered public if it affects or is likely to affect people in a location to which the public or a sizeable group of people have access. This includes businesses, schools, highways, apartment houses, and neighborhoods.
Police in Delaware County frequently charge disorderly conduct when a fight breaks out, or a group gets noisy. They might charge you if you were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Because the offense creates a criminal record that could cause difficulties far into the future, it is worthwhile to fight the charges. A Delaware County disorderly conduct lawyer could explain your options, help protect your rights, and work to find alternatives that do not create a criminal record. For a free consultation, call now.