Disorderly conduct charges can be serious in nature, leading to felonies in some cases. Such a charge can affect you for many years, which is why it’s important to protect your rights and seek legal help right away if you’ve been charged with disorderly conduct.
If you were defending yourself, exercising your First Amendment rights, or facing extreme misconduct from police officers, you can use these as possible defenses. To learn more, get assistance from a Chicago public crimes lawyer at O’Meara Law.
Call us today at 312-909-0706.
What Is Disorderly Conduct?
In Illinois, disorderly conduct refers to actions that unreasonably alarm others in an effort to disturb the peace. The acts may be accidental in nature or done on purpose in order to disturb others.
When determining whether or not an incident is considered disorderly conduct, authorities look at the circumstances. For example, loud shouting at 2 a.m. in a residential neighborhood is cause for concern, while the same shouting in a construction area at noon would be considered normal.
Objectivity also comes into play. Unlike other crimes, the prosecution does not need to show that someone was actually annoyed by your conduct. The only thing that matters is that a reasonable person would have been offended by your conduct.
The location is also a key factor since disorderly conduct often occurs in public. However, areas that may seem private – such as a restroom stall or hospital emergency room – are actually deemed public. Even an act done in your own home can be considered disorderly conduct if it disrupts another person, such as a neighbor. Disorderly conduct does not necessarily have to happen outside or on the streets.
Common examples of disorderly conduct include, but are not limited to:
- Public misconduct, which includes performing private acts outdoors in public
- Fighting or inciting a riot
- Yelling or arguing loudly
- Protesting disruptively by engaging in activities such as smashing windows and blocking traffic
- Falsely reporting a fire or bomb
- Falsely reporting a crime
- Falsely claiming that a child has been abused
- Calling 911 or requesting emergency services for no apparent reason
- Entering a person’s home for lewd purposes, such as “peeping” in an attempt to see someone naked
Disorderly conduct penalties in Illinois are quite strict compared to other states. While disorderly conduct is often a misdemeanor, there are situations in which it can be a felony.
Disorderly conduct can be charged as a Class A, B, or C misdemeanor. You could be fined as much as $2,500 and face up to one year in prison. In some cases, you may be able to serve probation instead of jail time.
More severe types of disorderly conduct, such as making false alarms, often result in felony charges. You could face Class 3 or Class 4 felony charges, which can result in a fine as high as $10,000. You could also face anywhere from one to five years in prison.
In addition, you could face anywhere from 30 to 120 hours of community service with any disorderly conduct sentence. The court can order this punishment if community service is available in your area.
While disorderly conduct convictions can be minor in some cases, they stay on your criminal record forever. It’s highly unlikely that such a charge will affect your employment, although it could in positions that require a background check or clearance. In any case, such a charge could affect your social life, as many people may be embarrassed by someone who is constantly fighting or walking around drunk in public.
Getting Legal Help for Your Disorderly Conduct Charge
While disorderly conduct is typically a misdemeanor crime, you could face a felony charge in some instances. As this type of crime stays on your record for life, it can affect you in various ways. You’ll want to contact a Chicago criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible.
Attorney Michael O’Meara can help with your disorderly contact case. He will review the facts and evidence and give your case a strong defense.
To learn more, call O’Meara Law today at 312-909-0706.