What You Need to Know About Maryland Disorderly Conduct Lawyer
The Maryland Criminal Code Criminalizes Disorderly Conduct Under Section 10-201
Disorderly conduct is a misdemeanor. The maximum penalty for the offense is 60 days in jail and/or a fine of $500.00.
Police and prosecutors use this offense to criminalize various activities and scenarios. Several everyday situations where the police may arrest someone for disorderly conduct in Maryland include breaking up protests, arresting drunk people outside bars and clubs, or disturbances caused at public sporting events as well as public domestic violence incidents.
Most cases typically involve some behavior that occurs in public. However, some incidents could occur in a private space, leading to an arrest in Maryland for disorderly conduct or disturbing the peace.
Disorderly conduct charges are often seen as a way for the police to control and punish disorderly or disruptive behavior. Under Maryland law, this offense is usually charged as a misdemeanor.
An experienced criminal defense lawyer can often get these charges dismissed or reduced to a lesser offense. Suppose you have been charged with disorderly conduct. In that case, it is essential to contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer who understands how to navigate the criminal justice system and fight Maryland disorderly conduct charges.
Maryland Disorderly Conduct Laws
Maryland disorderly conduct law under section 10-201 is broad and ambiguous. It prohibits several activities.
First, it prohibits blocking or obstructing the sidewalk on purpose (sometimes referred to as “incommoding”). In addition, it prohibits acting in a way that disturbs public peace, like making excessive noise. It also has a catch-all provision regarding acting in a “disorderly manner.”
One of the requirements for disorderly conduct is that the alleged conduct occurs in a public space. Maryland criminal law defines public space as religious places, educational places, parking lots, buildings the general public has access to, streets, parks, sidewalks, and public transit.
Failing to obey a lawful order by police could also constitute disorderly conduct in Maryland. In addition, police will sometimes arrest individuals involved in fights or altercations for disorderly conduct where they do not know who started the fight.
The primary listed offenses for disorderly conduct are intentionally blocking the sidewalk, disturbing the peace, failing to obey a lawful police order, and making unreasonably loud noise in public.
If a police officer or law enforcement officers believe that an individual has committed disorderly conduct, they can arrest the person and charge them with the offense. The disorderly conduct charge will then appear on the individual’s criminal record.
Penalties for Disorderly Conduct
In Maryland, disorderly conduct is a misdemeanor offense. It can carry fines and possible jail time, including up to 60 days. Separate offenses can carry different penalties.
For example, keeping a disorderly loud house carries a maximum penalty of $300.00 and up to six months in jail. Interfering access to a medical facility carries a maximum penalty of 90 days in jail and/or a $1,000.00 fine. This offense typically involves aggressive protesters trying to stop women from abortion facilities.
On the other hand, religious facilities and ceremonies enjoy protection from Maryland’s disorderly conduct law.
Defacing religious property carries a maximum penalty of 3 years in jail and/or a $5,000.00 fine. Obstructing a religious ceremony carries a maximum penalty of the same. Harassing a religious person and damaging religious property carries the same maximum penalty of 3 years in jail and/or a $5,000.00 fine.
Finally, a conviction for interfering with a sporting event carries a maximum penalty of 3 months in jail and/or a $250.00 fine.
Defenses to Disorderly Conduct
If you are arrested and charged with a crime, it is always important to seek out and speak with a qualified and experienced criminal defense lawyer. While disorderly conduct might not be the crime of the century, the fact that it carries potential jail time for conviction means you need a lawyer to defend the charges.
Moreover, an experienced Maryland criminal defense lawyer can ensure that your constitutional rights are protected. For example, police could arrest someone for disorderly conduct participating in a peaceful protest. A Maryland criminal defense lawyer could challenge the arrest as a violation of the defendant’s First Amendment right to free speech.
An experienced Montgomery County disorderly conduct lawyer can also challenge other elements of the offense. For example, the law requires the blocking of the sidewalk portion of Maryland’s disorderly conduct statute law be done intentionally. That means the government has to prove that you intended to block the sidewalk to interfere with others’ ability to pass.
Furthermore, repeat offenses can carry greater penalties, and the importance of having a qualified criminal defense lawyer cannot be overstated in those situations. It’s also essential to find a Maryland disorderly conduct attorney who is not afraid to try your case.
Having an arrest is not the same as getting convicted. A conviction on your record is much worse than having an arrest. Another defense for disorderly conduct involves where the allegation is excessive noise. The police may have inaccurately determined who made the noise and arrested the wrong person.
Finally, an obvious challenge to public intoxication would be whether the person arrested was actually intoxicated.
Maryland Disorderly Conduct Attorney Service Areas
Contact attorney Morgan Leigh today for a free consultation if you or a friend or loved one has been arrested for disorderly conduct in Maryland.
Ms. Leigh regularly practices in Montgomery County, Maryland, including District and Circuit Court and Prince George’s County, Maryland, and surrounding areas.
These include the neighboring counties around Washington, DC, Bethesda, Rockville, Hyattsville, and Bowie. She is an aggressive advocate with experience challenging misdemeanor offenses, including Maryland disorderly conduct.