Disorderly conduct is one of the most common criminal offenses that you can face in Pennsylvania. All too often, disorderly conduct cases involve ordinary, hard-working, productive citizens who were in the wrong place at the wrong time.
A Montgomery County disorderly conduct lawyer may be able to work toward reducing or eliminating the charges against you and minimizing the impact of this incident on your life.
Although disorderly conduct may be a minor charge as compared to other criminal charges, a conviction for this offense still can have harsh consequences, including jail time, probation, fines, and more. Fortunately, many defenses may be applicable in your case.
A skilled defense attorney may be able to evaluate your situation and determine the course of action that is most likely to be effective in your case.
18 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 5503 represents a broad range of behaviors as disorderly conduct. This offense occurs when individuals take the following actions to cause public inconvenience, annoyance, or alarm or recklessly creating a risk of these conditions:
The behaviors described in this statute are vague and expansive, which means that they potentially include many different actions by individuals that occur on any premises that are open to the public. The statute further defines “public” as any place to which a substantial number of people have access, including highways, schools, prisons, stores, parks, and apartment buildings, among other sites.
A disorderly conduct lawyer in Montgomery County may be able to defend individuals who are facing disorderly conduct charges.
Disorderly conduct is a summary offense under Pennsylvania law. However, if the individuals committing the behavior intended to cause substantial harm or serious inconvenience, or they continue with their conduct after receiving warnings to stop, the offense is a third-degree misdemeanor offense.
Conviction on a summary offense can result in up to 90 days in jail, a $300 fine, payment of court costs, and a criminal record that will exist for at least five years. For a third-degree misdemeanor conviction, individuals may face up to one year of incarceration, a $2,000 fine, and a permanent criminal record.
A criminal record for disorderly conduct may be a deterrent for potential employers, schools, and landlords. Since this record is permanent in many cases, individuals may experience continuing difficulties finding better employment or pursuing new careers for many years. A disorderly conduct attorney in Montgomery County may be able to develop a strong defense to charges of disorderly conduct.
In many situations, law enforcement officers use disorderly conduct charges as a sort of “catch-all” for any public behaviors that they dislike. As a result, individuals sometimes face disorderly conduct charges that are improper. Some of the most common actions that result in disorderly conduct charges include:
If the behaviors exhibited at the time of arrest do not fit within the elements outlined in the disorderly conduct statute, an experienced attorney in Montgomery County may be able to argue that the charges are inappropriate.
These negotiations also could result in reducing the grading of the offense from a misdemeanor to a summary offense, which does not create a permanent criminal record. In other cases, there may be options that avoid any conviction altogether.
One wrong move or lapse in judgment can lead to a permanent criminal record and time spent in jail when law enforcement officers arrest you on charges of disorderly conduct. Even if you have no prior criminal record, the outcome of a disorderly conduct conviction can include severe ramifications for your future.
Contacting a Montgomery County disorderly conduct lawyer may be the most effective means of fighting back against the charges against you.
Making a simple mistake should not require you to pay for it for the rest of your life by missing out on valuable educational and job opportunities. Enlisting the help of legal counsel may allow you to successfully challenge the charges against you and avoid the negative implications of a criminal conviction.
David Clark Attorney at Law