Disorderly Conduct in Maryland

October 4, 2012

Disorderly conduct, or "disturbance of the peace," typically consists of behavior that creates a disturbance, disrupts the public, or involves the defendant somehow "causing a scene." As a seemingly generic charge, disorderly conduct can encompass a multitude of situations.

For instance, you go out to a sports bar with some friends to have a couple of drinks. You're wearing a specific team jersey and some guy lets you know that he just doesn't like it. He's had a few drinks and you've had a few drinks.

All of a sudden, he gets in your face about your team. It seems ridiculous, but he won't stop throwing insults. Finally, you've just had it with him yelling at you and you shove him away. He throws a punch, so you throw one right back, and the next thing you know, you're in a full-out bar fight. The police are called, and by the time the officers get there, you and the gentleman are out in the street, still yelling at one another.

The officers ask you to calm down, but you're cursing and yelling at this guy for starting a bar fight and getting you in trouble. The police ask you multiple times to calm down, but you don't comply, prompting the officers to cite you with disorderly conduct, among other charges.

These cases can be quite common in criminal courts, and are usually seen as misdemeanors. However, that does not mean that they should be taken lightly, especially for defendants who have an otherwise nonexistent criminal record.

The issue with a disorderly conduct charge, however, is that the legislation was written vaguely, so there are many situations where a "disturbance of the peace" law can be applied.

Police officers may use discretion in applying a charge of disorderly conduct if the citizen's actions are questionable or unprecedented. In Maryland, any of the following actions can be cause for a disorderly conduct violation:

  • bar fights;
  • being unreasonably loud or rowdy;
  • panhandling;
  • disobeying an order to keep the peace;
  • loitering in public places;
  • blocking public traffic;
  • public drunkenness; and
  • lewd behavior.

Considering that the actions are often unclear as to why a citizen may be charged with disorderly conduct, defendants often view the penalties for these actions as excessive or undeserved. Typically, a disorderly conduct conviction can result in:

  • incarceration of up to 60 days in jail; and
  • a fine of up to $500.

If you have been charged with disorderly conduct in Maryland, be sure to contact an attorney with Cochran and Chhabra at 888-268-5515.

The law office of Cochran & Chhabra has provided this website and its content for informational purposes only. The information is not intended to be legal advice or counsel. Your use of this site and its content does not construct a lawyer-client relationship with Cochran & Chhabra. You should consult an attorney for individual advice concerning your particular situation.

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