What is a Disorderly Conduct Charge in Arizona?

what is a disorderly conduct chargeIf you watch any of the popular TV police shows, reality or otherwise, then you have probably heard the phrase “disorderly conduct” thrown around. However, do you even know what that means or what the consequences are?

Today, we want to use a recent case to kick off a discussion of disorderly conduct charges in Arizona. Former NFL offensive lineman Richie Incognito was arrested in Scottsdale in August on a slew of charges but has recently pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct.

If you or a loved one are facing disorderly conduct charges, do not take them lightly. A guilty verdict could lead to a permanent mark on your record as well as jail time and fines. Seek assistance from an Arizona criminal defense attorney today.

What Happened In This Case?

Richie Incognito was arrested in August of 2018 on charges of making threats and defacing property. Incognito, 35, was allegedly threatening employees where his father’s body was being held. Police say that he formed his hand into the shape of a gun and told one employee that he had a “truck full of guns” in the parking lot.

In this case, it seems that Incognito and prosecutors worked out a plea deal and landed on a disorderly conduct charge. What we do not want anyone to think is that a disorderly conduct charge is minor.

  • Disorderly conduct charges can be either a misdemeanor or a felony.

If we look through ARS 13-2904, we can see a range of ways that people can face this charge. There are five possible ways that a person can be charged with a Class 1 misdemeanor for disorderly conduct:

  1. Engaging in fighting, violent or seriously disruptive behavior
  2. Making unreasonable noise
  3. Using abusive or offensive language or gestures to a person that are likely to provoke immediate physical retaliation by someone
  4. Making commotions with the intent to disrupt a business
  5. Refusing to leave an area as directed by officials

These charges carry penalties of up to 6 months in jail and fines of $2,500.

A person can face a Class 6 felony charge for disorderly conduct if they recklessly handle, display, or discharge a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument. This charge carries a mandatory prison sentence of 1.5 years in prison, a presumptive prison term of 2.25 years, with a maximum of 3 years in prison.

This Is A Catch-All

Looking through the ways in which a person can face these charges, you can see just how broad they are. Nearly any kind of disruptive behavior, or perceived disruptive behavior, can result in a charge if law enforcement wants to bring one. The way the law is written makes it subjective and can lead to wildly inappropriate charges.

  • A teenager having a small house party could face a Class 1 misdemeanor if their music is too loud.
  • Someone walking home from a bar instead of driving can face a disorderly conduct charge.
  • Protesting businesses could lead to groups of people facing disorderly conduct charges.

As you can see, the possibilities for being inappropriately charged are endless and this statute can be used unfairly by law enforcement and prosecutors.

What An Attorney Can Do

If you or a loved one have been charged with disorderly conduct, it may be tempting to not take it seriously. Please do not go to court or speak to prosecutors without seeking legal assistance first. Misdemeanor crimes show up on your criminal record and can prevent you from obtaining employment or attending school. A skilled criminal defense attorney will examine your entire case and work to get your charges thrown out.

Click here to find out about understanding Arizona misdemeanor classes.