What Constitutes Disorderly Conduct in Massachusetts?

What Constitutes Disorderly Conduct in Massachusetts?

Over 2,000 people a year find themselves under arrest for disorderly conduct in Massachusetts. But what exactly is disorderly conduct? Often used as a catch-all offense when someone acts in a way that is likely to upset others, disorderly conduct actually applies to a range of activities. So if you engage in any number of behaviors that annoy the public at large, you may face a charge of disorderly conduct in Massachusetts.

While each state has its own laws about what constitutes disorderly conduct, Massachusetts defines it as “behavior that tends to disturb the public tranquility or to alarm or provoke others.” It includes fighting and threatening, engaging in agitated behavior that causes a public nuisance, and acting in a way that poses a hazard to public safety or creates a physically offensive condition for no justifiable reason.

What Kinds of Behavior Result in Disorderly Conduct Charges?

The following situations may result in disorderly conduct arrests in the state of Massachusetts. Note that disorderly conduct charges often overlap with other similar offenses such as disturbing the peace and violating noise ordinances.

  • Fighting in a bar: Alcohol often plays a role in disorderly conduct, such as when intoxicated bar patrons get into physical or verbal altercations.
  • Getting out of control at a sporting event: Fans like to enthusiastically support their team, but if cheers turn into a disruption with offensive language or unreasonable noise, disorderly conduct charges may follow.
  • Being rowdy at the beach: When loud or disrespectful behavior makes others feel unsafe or prevents them from enjoying their activities, you may be charged for disorderly conduct.
  • Public urination: Many disorderly conduct charges result from people engaging in behavior that is acceptable in private but not in public, including urination, masturbation, and sexual activity.
  • Threatening law enforcement: While arguing with police officers isn’t usually a crime, if the argument involves verbal threats or physical contact, you may face disorderly conduct charges.

What Penalties Apply to Disorderly Conduct in Massachusetts?

Disorderly conduct in Massachusetts can carry both financial penalties and jail time. For a first offense, the maximum fine for disorderly conduct or disturbing the peace is $150. For a second and any further offenses, convictions can lead to six months in jail and a fine of up to $200.

Although disorderly conduct in Massachusetts is typically a misdemeanor offense, any criminal conviction can negatively affect your life for years. Not only do you face possible jail time, but you may have to disclose your criminal background on employment forms, immigration petitions, and housing applications.

Can a Massachusetts Disorderly Conduct Lawyer Help?

If you are facing a disorderly conduct or similar charge, the best way to protect yourself is to contact a Massachusetts criminal defense attorney immediately. At Altman & Altman LLP, we have over 50 years of experience successfully defending people against all types of criminal charges. So contact us today for your free consultation with an experienced Massachusetts disorderly conduct lawyer. You can speak with us 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

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