Disturbing peace is a criminal offense that encompasses a wide variety of prohibited behaviors. Law enforcement officers use this charge to enforce a standard of acceptable public behavior and to protect the peace.
What Is Disorderly Conduct?
Engaging in violent or disruptive behavior that has the potential to disturb others can be grounds for arrest. Unruly conduct, illegal protests or disrupting the peace can be grounds for arrest and prosecution. Some examples of this kind of behavior can include:
- fighting or brawling
- using indecent, obscene or vulgar language in public
- disturbing an assembly of people
- creating loud noises that disturb others
Legal Penalties for Disturbing an Assembly
Disorderly conduct can be penalized in several ways in Houston, Texas. A breach of the peace or outrageous public behavior is usually classified as a misdemeanor offense. However, misconduct that seriously threatens the safety of others can sometimes be upgraded to a felony charge. According to the Texas Penal Code, penalties for this crime can include:
- A jail sentence ranging from an overnight stay in jail or up to one year in county jail.
- Fines ranging from a very small amount up to thousands of dollars. Mandatory repayment for damaged property may also be ordered.
- A probation term that can last several months or up to one year.
Legal Defenses for Outrageous Public Behavior
To convict someone of unruly conduct or a breach of the peace in Houston, the court must show that the defendant behaved in a way that would have disturbed a reasonable person. For example, if a defendant entered a public space and began using vulgar language or indecent gestures, the court may argue that a reasonable person would have been offended or threatened by that behavior.
A defense attorney may argue that the defendant was not intentionally behaving in a disruptive or offensive manner. For example, the defense attorney could argue that the defendant was using offensive language in an argument with a specific person and did not intend for anyone to overhear the offensive language in the argument.
Additionally, the defense attorney may be able to negotiate for a lesser sentence by having the defendant agree to community service rather that serving jail time.