Defenses to Disorderly Conduct

Lawyer for Defenses to Disorderly Conduct Charges in Arizona

If you are concerned about defenses to disorderly conduct charges, you should call the highly experienced Tempe criminal defense attorney James E. Novak. Mr. Novak previously worked as a prosecutor and his educational background includes engineering, psychology, and business, in addition to law. He brings insights from all these fields to bear on his development of a strong strategy against accusations in criminal court.

Defenses to Disorderly Conduct in Tempe

Arizona Revised Statute 13-2904 prohibits certain kinds of actions when they are intended to disturb the peace or quiet of a neighborhood, family, or person, or with knowledge that they will do so, including:

  • Engaging in violent or seriously disruptive conduct.
  • Recklessly handling a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument.
  • Making unreasonable noise.
  • Using abusive language or gestures in a way that’s likely to provoke immediately physical retaliation.
  • Making protracted commotion or utterance.
  • Refusing to obey lawful orders issued to maintain public safety in an emergency situation.

The specific situation and reason for the disorderly conduct charges in your case will dictate our attorney’s decisions about what the best defenses and steps would be. These defenses could include raising reasonable doubt, showing you did not have the required state of mind, free speech, and more. Sometimes, our Tempe lawyers will need to establish there were constitutional or procedural violations. These can include lack of reasonable suspicion, Miranda violates, denial of right to counsel, lack of warrant, or lack of probable cause for arrest. There may be chain of custody issues with critical evidence such as video surveillance footage that would allow us to ask the court to exclude it.

State of Mind

In order to be convicted, you must have known your conduct was disturbing the peace. When the charge involves disturbing the peace of a particular neighborhood, the government won’t be required to prove a specific individual was bothered by your behavior, but the situation is different when the charge involves bothering a particular person.

The statute requires the prosecutor to show certain acts were committed with intent to disturb the peace or with knowledge you were disturbing others. Arizona statutory language for this crime is broad. However, we can try to show the court’s own case law doesn’t support a finding that your behavior rose to the level of “disorderly.” There is a distinction between behavior that is simply offensive and criminal conduct. For example, if you shouted a mild profanity in a bar while watching sports on a communal television and slammed the door while going to the bar bathroom because your team was losing, your behavior may not have arisen to the level of disorderly without more. On the other hand, if you hit someone rooting for the other team while shouting a profanity, the prosecutor may be able to make the state’s case. Your reasonable mistake should not be punished in criminal court, and showing your mistake was reasonable may be an appropriate defense.

Free Speech

The First Amendment protects your right to free speech. However, generally, fighting words are not constitutionally protected; these are words that are intrinsically likely to provoke a violent response when addressed to an ordinary person.

Self-Defense and Defense of Others

Self-defense may be an appropriate defense under A.R.S. section 13-404. You are justified in threatening force against someone else when a reasonable person would think physical force was reasonably needed to protect yourself against another’s use of illegal physical force. Your force will not be considered justified if you provoked the other’s use of illegal physical force in the first place.

Proportionality is key. You can only display a gun defensively to the extent a reasonable person would think physical force was immediately needed to protect against the use or attempted use of illegal physical force.

Retain a Dedicated Criminal Defense Lawyer

You should take charges of disorderly conduct seriously since a conviction could result in harsher penalties for other conduct down the road. In some cases, disorderly conduct is the lesser of two charges you could have faced in Tempe, and therefore it is appropriate to secure a plea deal in connection with it. However, in other cases, it is the only charge, and it is subject to strong defenses, making it appropriate to take the case to trial. If you are charged with disorderly conduct, you should call James E. Novak. Mr. Novak represents those accused in Phoenix, as well as Gilbert, Chandler, Mesa, and Maricopa County. Contact him at undefined or complete our online form.