Austin Disorderly Conduct Lawyer

Disorderly conduct in Texas involves actions that disrupt public peace, like using abusive language, making excessive noise, or handling weapons in a threatening manner. Contrary to popular belief, a disorderly conduct conviction can lead to serious consequences, including fines and potential jail time. 

Charged with disorderly conduct? It is important to talk with a lawyer right away. Cofer & Connelly, PLLC, is committed to vigorously defending clients against criminal allegations while ensuring that their rights remain safeguarded throughout the legal process. Reach out to Cofer & Connelly, PLLC, by dialing (512) 991-0576 or contacting us online to schedule a consultation with a disorderly conduct attorney.

Texas Law on Disorderly Conduct

Under Texas Statutes Section 42.01, disorderly conduct encompasses a range of actions that can disturb the public peace or decency. If you're accused of disorderly conduct in Texas, it implies that you've engaged in specific behaviors that the law defines as inappropriate for public settings.

For instance, if you use language that is abusive, profane, indecent, or vulgar in a public place and it's likely to provoke an immediate reaction or disturbance, you could be charged with disorderly conduct. This also applies if you make offensive gestures or displays that could stir up immediate trouble or unrest among the people around you.

The law also addresses more physical senses; creating an unbearable and unreasonable smell through chemical means in a public area falls under disorderly conduct. Likewise, if you're in a public space and you behave in a manner that's obviously offensive towards someone, either through verbal abuse or threats, this could be grounds for a disorderly conduct charge.

Loud Noises

Noise is another factor considered under the law. If you create unreasonable noise levels in a public place or near someone's residence without having the right to be there, it could be seen as disorderly conduct. This includes any noise that exceeds certain decibel levels after you've been warned by a law enforcement officer that the noise you're making is considered a public nuisance.

Physical Altercations

Physical altercations aren't left out either. Engaging in a fight or scuffle in a public place is categorized under disorderly conduct. And if you're handling firearms or other deadly weapons in public spaces, actions such as discharging the firearm (unless it's in a designated shooting range), brandishing the weapon in a way that alarms others, or firing across a public road, are all considered disorderly under Texas law.

Non-Physical Actions

Furthermore, certain actions are considered invasive and inappropriate, such as exposing yourself in a public place without considering if others might be offended or alarmed. Also, for lewd or unlawful purposes, entering someone's property to peep into their dwelling, looking into someone's hotel room that isn't yours, or spying into private areas designed for personal privacy like restrooms or changing rooms, are all actions that are categorized as disorderly conduct.

What is Considered a Public Place?

In understanding your charge, it's essential to know what constitutes a public place. Besides the commonly understood public areas, schools and their grounds are specifically designated as public places. And for certain actions, even if they don't occur directly in a public place, if the consequences of those actions spill over into the public area or near a private residence, they can still be considered under this law.

Penalties for Disorderly Conduct in Texas

Most disorderly conduct offenses are classified as Class C misdemeanors. This is the case if you're charged with offenses like using vulgar language, making offensive gestures, creating unreasonable odors, making unreasonable noise, or engaging in a fight in a public place. For a Class C misdemeanor, you're not looking at jail time, but you could face a fine of up to $500.

However, if your disorderly conduct involves firearms, the charges can be more severe. Specifically, if you discharge a firearm in a public place, or if you display a firearm or other deadly weapon in a public place in a manner calculated to alarm, your offense is elevated to a Class B misdemeanor. The penalties for a Class B misdemeanor can include up to 180 days in jail and a fine of up to $2,000.

It's important to note that these are the penalties for first-time offenses. If you have prior convictions, the penalties might be more severe. Also, while jail time and fines are standard penalties, courts sometimes consider alternatives, especially for lower-level misdemeanors like disorderly conduct. These alternatives can include community service, probation, or participation in educational programs aimed at preventing future offenses. The goal with these alternatives is often to address the underlying causes of the behavior and to prevent recidivism, rather than just to punish.

Potential Defenses to Disorderly Conduct Charges

In facing disorderly conduct charges in Texas, there are several defenses you might consider. One notable defense is if you were significantly provoked to act abusively or threateningly in a public place. This defense acknowledges that your reaction, though possibly disorderly, was a direct response to severe provocation.

Another defense relates to the noise-related provisions of the law. If you're charged with making an unreasonable noise, it's presumed to be unreasonable only if it exceeds certain decibel levels after you've received notice that the noise is a public nuisance. Therefore, if you were not given a warning or if the noise was below the prescribed level, this could form a part of your defense.

In cases involving the discharge of a firearm, if you acted out of a reasonable fear of bodily harm either to yourself or to others, this can also be a defense. Specifically, if you believed that a dangerous wild animal posed an imminent threat, your actions might be justified under the law.

Also, for some portions of the disorderly conduct law, the actions are deemed offensive or prohibited only if they tend to incite an immediate breach of the peace. If your actions did not actually provoke a reaction or if there's a lack of evidence to prove that they were likely to do so, this might be a key point in your defense.

It's important to note that the context and circumstances of your actions are highly significant. The location, the presence of others, and their reactions, among other factors, will all be considered in determining whether your conduct was disorderly according to the law.

Role of a Disorderly Conduct Lawyer in Austin, TX

If you're charged with disorderly conduct, a criminal defense lawyer can provide significant support. They can analyze the specifics of your case, evaluate the evidence against you, and develop a strong defense strategy. Your lawyer can argue for the application of defenses, like significant provocation or the lack of intent to cause a breach of the peace. They can also negotiate on your behalf, potentially reducing the charges or the severity of the penalties. Moreover, they can guide you through the legal process, ensuring that your rights are protected. In essence, a disorderly conduct lawyer acts as your advocate, aiming to achieve the best possible outcome in your case.

Frequently Asked Questions about Disorderly Conduct

What qualifies as disorderly conduct in Texas?
Disorderly conduct includes actions like using abusive language in public, fighting, or creating excessive noise.

Does making noise always count as disorderly conduct?
No, noise must be unreasonable and exceed certain decibel levels after you've been warned.

Can I face jail time for disorderly conduct?
Yes, particularly for offenses involving firearms or if you're a repeat offender.

Is it disorderly conduct if I accidentally discharge a firearm?
It can be, unless you prove it was in reasonable fear of a wild animal threat.

Does the law consider my intent in disorderly conduct cases?
Yes, the intent is important, especially if your actions were a result of significant provocation.

Are there different classifications for disorderly conduct?
Yes, the charges can vary from Class C to Class B misdemeanors based on the offense.

What's the maximum fine for a Class C misdemeanor?
For a Class C misdemeanor, the fine can be up to $500.

Can I be charged for just threatening someone?
Yes, if it's in an offensive manner and in a public place.

Can I be charged for disorderly conduct for actions in my own home?
Generally, no. But if the actions spill over into public space or are unreasonably loud, it's possible.

Contact an Austin Disorderly Conduct Attorney Today

If you're facing disorderly conduct charges, it's essential to seek legal guidance promptly. At Cofer & Connelly, PLLC, our team aggressively defends clients against criminal charges, ensuring their rights are protected throughout the process. Don't face these challenging times alone; contact Cofer & Connelly, PLLC by calling (512) 991-0576 or contacting us online for a consultation with a disorderly conduct lawyer.

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