What Is Disorderly Conduct?

When it comes to laws, there are plenty of terms that people hear regularly. Despite that, some of the terms are a bit unclear for people. Take for instance disorderly conduct. What exactly does that term mean? What counts as disorderly conduct?

Disorderly conduct is a broad term that covers a variety of different acts that could be considered disruptive to the general public. Knowing this can help a person avoid getting into any trouble with the law.

California’s Disorderly Conduct Laws

There are a couple of different laws here in California that can fall within the category of disorderly conduct. For starters, there is Penal Code 647. This is California’s primary disorderly conduct law and covers a variety of different activities.

Some other laws that can be considered disorderly conduct include:

  • Penal Code 404: Rioting
  • Penal Code 415: Disturbing the Peace
  • Penal Code 416: Failure to Disperse
  • Penal Code 602: Trespassing

Penal Code 647 lists all of the following acts as disorderly conduct:

  • Lewd Conduct In Public
    This occurs when people perform lewd or sexual acts in public.
  • Prostitution
    This is pretty self-explanatory, but for those unaware, this occurs whenever someone pays or gets paid for a sexual act with another person.
  • Aggressive Panhandling
    Panhandling is legal; however, being very aggressive with it is not. A person cannot accost or harass another person while asking for money.
  • Squatting
    This occurs when a person lives in another person’s home or building without permission from the owner to do so.
  • Public Intoxication
    This doesn’t mean a person can’t be drunk in public. This just means that a person cannot be so drunk that they become a threat to the safety of others and themselves.
  • Loitering
    This occurs when someone hangs around on someone’s property with the intent of committing a crime.
  • Peeping
    This occurs when a person is loitering on someone’s property with the intent of peeking into an inhabited building.
  • Invasion of Privacy
    This occurs when a person uses a device to peek into and/or record someone’s home, a private bathroom or changing room.
  • Revenge Porn
    This occurs when a person distributes pornographic images or videos of a person without his/her permission.

Under California law Penal Code 404: Rioting is defined as 2 or more people doing the following without legal permission:

  • Using force or violence.
  • Disturbing the peace.
  • Threatening to use force or violence and having the means to back up that threat.

Under Penal Code 415: Disturbing The Peace is defined as a person playing excessively loud music, fighting with someone or using offensive language to start a fight.

Penal Code 416: Failure To Disperse occurs when a person assembles or gathers for the purpose of disturbing the public and then failing to leave after being ordered to do so by law enforcement agents.

Lastly, Penal Code 602: Trespassing. Under this California law, it is illegal for a person to enter or remain on someone else’s property without their permission.

Penalties For Disorderly Conduct

Anyone who commits one of the above acts is guilty of disorderly conduct and will face penalties under one of the above laws. Penal Code 647 is a misdemeanor offense that comes with:

  • Up to 6 months in county jail.
  • A max fine of $1,000.
  • Misdemeanor probation.

Penal Code 404: Rioting is also a misdemeanor offense that comes with:

  • Up to 1 year in county jail.
  • A max fine of $1,000.

Penal Code 415: Disturbing The Peace is a wobbler offense that can be charged as an infraction or a misdemeanor depending on the facts of the case. The worst penalties for disturbing the peace are:

  • Up to 90 days in county jail.
  • A max fine of $400.

Penal Code 416: Failure To Disperse is another misdemeanor offense that comes with:

  • Up to 6 months in county jail.
  • A max fine of $1,000.
  • Paying restitutions for any damages caused by the crime.

Trespassing is usually charged as either an infraction or as a misdemeanor but can be charged as a felony in rare instances. The first time someone trespasses on a particular piece of land, they will face an infraction charge that comes with a $75 fine. A second offense on the same piece of land, the fine increase to $250. A third, or any subsequent offense, earns a person misdemeanor charges that comes with:

  • Up to 6 months in county jail.
  • A max fine of $1,000.
  • Misdemeanor probation.

Trespassing can be charged as a felony when a person makes a credible threat against another individual and then within 30 days of issuing the threat is caught trespassing on the victim’s property or place of work. When this occurs, a person will face:

  • 16 months, 2 years or 3 years in county jail.
  • A max fine of $10,000.
  • Felony probation.

Just Be Mindful Of Others

As one can see, there are plenty of different ways that a person can be accused of disorderly conduct. However, most of these acts are pretty easy to avoid. After all, it is not like a person is faced with the possibility of being in a riot every single day. As long a person is on their best behavior and doesn’t try to start fights with other people, they will be fine.