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Disorderly Conduct (720 ILCS 5/26-1)
If you are charged with Disorderly Conduct, you will need experienced and effective legal representation. The most common charge of Disorderly Conduct is a Class “C” Misdemeanor, punishable by up to 30 days in the County Jail and/or a $1500 fine. If a jail sentence is not ordered there is a minimum of 30 to 120 community service hours required for a conviction. This is the least serious misdemeanor charge in Illinois. However, certain less common charges of disorderly conduct can be Class “B” and Class “A” misdemeanors and even Class “4” and Class “3” Felonies. A conviction for this offense can cause problems when looking for a job, enrolling in school, applying for professional licensing, and many other major life events.
The most frequent charge of Disorderly Conduct arises from what many refer to as “Disturbing the Peace”. This is a wide ranging charge that can be anything from yelling in public, honking a car horn, playing music too loud, and countless other actions. Because the definition of Disorderly Conduct is so broad, police often use the charge as a “catch all” when they cannot think of a better reason to arrest a person. Often these cases against a person can be extremely weak, or sometimes even patently ridiculous.
To prove a charge of Class “C” Disorderly Conduct, the State must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you:
- Did an act in such an unreasonable manner that;
- It alarmed and disturbed another, and;
- Provoked a breach of the peace.
All of these four elements can be difficult for a prosecutor to prove, and an experienced criminal defense attorney can make it even more difficult and hold the state to their burden of proving you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
One common factor that leads to a person being charged with Disorderly Conduct is alcohol intoxication. In many such cases, the level of alcohol impairment can be critical. The state must prove that the alarming act was done “knowingly”. If the person charged with the offense was so extremely intoxicated as to be completely unaware of their actions, it could actually be a defense to the charge. This is a very difficult affirmative defense to present, however, and is best done by an experienced attorney.
In the absence of extreme intoxication, the first element required to be proven by the State can usually be easily accomplished. The other three can be much more difficult. Acting in an “unreasonable manner” is a very subjective standard and the definition of unreasonable can vary widely from one person to another based on their life experience. This variation can often make it hard for a prosecutor to prove to a jury of 12 people that your actions were unreasonable. Secondly, the person who was “alarmed and disturbed” by your conduct must be available to testify that they were, in fact, alarmed and disturbed. Often these witnesses upon cross-examination will reveal that they really weren’t all that alarmed or disturbed after all. It is also important to note that in Illinois, the person who is “alarmed and disturbed” cannot be a police officer. Finally, the definition of what is a “breach of the peace” can be just as hard for a prosecutor to define as what constitutes an “unreasonable act”. An experienced criminal defense attorney can point out these weaknesses in the State’s case against you.
Most of the other actions that are defined as “Disorderly Conduct” involve the communication of information to an authority about an emergency situation that the person charged with the offense knew was not true. These can be a false report about domestic abuse (Class “B” Misdemeanor), a false report to public safety agency (Class “A” Misdemeanor), calling 911 without cause (Class “4” Felony), or even a bomb threat (Class “3” Felony). These are more serious offenses and you will need experienced legal representation if you are charged with one of these offenses.
If you have been charged with any type of Disorderly Conduct, contact the experienced criminal defense attorneys at Hall, Rustom & Fritz to help you with your case.
Responsive, Capable and Attentive Legal Advice
If you are charge with Disorderly Conduct, it is critical that you to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney to represent you. Attorney Jeff Hall is a former prosecutor in Central Illinois and he can assist you. Email Jeff at [email protected].