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9 Common Types of Disorderly Conduct That May Land You in Jail

Posted on August 21, 2013 by Mintzer Law

Unlike other states where disorderly conduct is a minor violation punishable by a fine, Texas lawmakers made disorderly conduct a misdemeanor charge. A misdemeanor is a criminal offense punishable by a fine, probation or jail. Typical penalties for a first offense are a fine and, depending upon the circumstances, probation.

Police frequently use disorderly conduct when other criminal charges might not fit the exact set of facts and circumstances surrounding an incident. The wide-range of offenses that fall within the definition of disorderly conduct make it ideal when police are confronted by an individual whose actions are disruptive.

Disorderly Conduct Offenses

According to the Texas Penal Code, the following conduct or activities are considered disorderly conduct if committed in a public place:

  • Use of abusive, indecent, profane or vulgar language likely to incite a fight or physical altercation
  • Making an obscene gesture that is likely to incite a physical altercation
  • Using chemicals to create a noxious and unreasonable odor
  • Verbally abuse or threaten a person in an offensive way
  • Unreasonable noise that is more than 85 decibels
  • Fighting
  • Discharging a firearm or using one to threaten other people
  • Recklessly displaying one’s genitals or anus
  • Looking into someone’s home, motel room or dressing room for unlawful or lewd purposes

Penalties for Disorderly Conduct in Texas

The majority of disorderly conduct charges fall into the Class C misdemeanor classification and are punishable by fines not to exceed $500. Charges involving a firearm are Class B misdemeanors punishable by fines up to $2,000 and a jail sentence that does not exceed 180 days. Judges also have the option to sentence a person to probation supervision instead of a jail term.

Defending Against Charges

Disorderly conduct offenses are public order crimes, so a key element that prosecutors must prove is the effect of the alleged conduct on the public in general or on other specific individuals. For example, a charge involving conduct or language likely to provoke a physical altercation, so called “fighting words,” could be defended by showing that the language or conduct might have been profane or vulgar, but it did not arise to the level of fighting words.

Justification for the alleged conduct might be a defense to a disorderly conduct charge including threats or verbal abuse directed toward another person or the display of a weapon. Such conduct used in self-defense or in defense of another person could possibly be a defense that a person could raise at trial.

For additional information about kinds of disorderly conduct, talk to Rand Mintzer at 713-862-8880 to schedule a free case review.