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 a wide variety of activity and scenarios. Several common situations where the police may arrest someone for disorderly conduct in Maryland including breaking up protests, arresting drunk people outside bars and clubs, or disturbances caused at public sporting events as well as public domestic violence situations. Most cases typically involve some type of behavior that occurs in public. Although some incidents could occur in a private space that could lead to an arrest in Maryland for disorderly conduct or disturbing the peace.
Maryland Disorderly Conduct Law
The statute that criminalizes disorderly conduct in Maryland 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 the public 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 occur in a public space. Maryland criminal law defines public space as religious places, educational places, parking lots, any 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 main 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.
Penalties for Disorderly Conduct
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 also 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
Moreover, an experienced Maryland criminal defense lawyer can ensure that your constitutional rights were protected. For example, police could arrest someone for disorderly conduct who is 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 other’s ability to pass.
Furthermore, repeat offenses can carry greater penalties and the importance for having a qualified criminal defense lawyer cannot be overstated in those situations. Its also important to find an 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 challenging whether the person arrested was actually intoxicated.