Disorderly Conduct

What Is Considered Disorderly Conduct in CA?

What Constitutes Disorderly Conduct? | CA Penal Code 647 

California Penal Code 647 outlines the state's definition of disorderly conduct, a misdemeanor that carries significant penalties. Disorderly conduct involves behaving or acting in a way in public that interrupts other people’s ability to enjoy a public space or in a way that is offensive or disruptive.  

Analyzing the Definition 

The definition of disorderly conduct under Penal Code 647 hinges on several key issues: 

  • Intent. In many instances, a person must knowingly engage in the behavior for it to qualify as disorderly conduct. For example, a person must have specific intent to engage in an act of prostitution. 

  • Disruption of public peace. The conduct must disturb the peace, safety, or order of a public area. This is the case with public intoxication if it impedes the use of a roadway or public path. 

  • Lewd behavior. Lewd conduct involves public sexual behavior that may be offensive to others. 

Acts That Can Be Considered Disorderly Conduct  

In the context of this statute, disorderly conduct can encompass several types of behavior: 

  • Public intoxication. Being under the influence in public to the extent that you are unable to care for your own safety or impede the use of a roadway or public path is considered disorderly conduct. 

  • Prostitution, solicitation, and other improper sexual conduct. A person agrees to engage in an act of prostitution when, with specific intent to do so, they accept an offer or solicitation to engage in such behavior. Penal Code 647(a) specifies that lewd conduct involves engaging or soliciting someone else to engage in public sexual behavior that may be offensive to others. This could include touching one’s own or another person's private parts in public.  

  • Refusing to disperse. If a group of two or more people who are gathered disturb the peace and refuse to comply with an order to disperse (i.e. leave the area), this failure to act can be considered disorderly conduct.  

  • Lodging in a place without consent. If a person stays in a private or public home, structure, vehicle, or place without the owner’s consent, they can face disorderly conduct charges.  

What Is the Penalty for Disorderly Conduct in CA?  

In California, disorderly conduct is a misdemeanor offense. A conviction for such an offense is punishable by 6 months in jail and/or up to a $1,000 fine. However, the penalties can be increased if you have been convicted of this offense previously.  

Defenses Against Charges 

There are several defenses one might raise in response to charges of disorderly conduct. For instance, one might argue that they didn’t have the requisite intent, or that their behavior didn't disturb public peace or involve lewd behavior. The effectiveness of these defenses will depend on the specific circumstances and evidence in each case. 

Experienced Criminal Defense Attorneys  

At Samra Dhillon & Associates, we believe in crafting a customized defense strategy that aligns with the unique circumstances of your case. Should you or a loved one be charged with disorderly conduct, our attorneys are here to help you.  

Remember, the right legal representation can significantly impact the outcome of your case. To get started on your case, request a free consultation today by calling (916) 571-1550.