Close this search box.
Close this search box.
Police sirens atop a vihicle


Understanding Disorderly Conduct in California

Disorderly conduct, also known as disturbing the peace, involves actions done in public that may be disruptive or offensive. Depending on the state, public intoxication may be considered as part of disorderly conduct or the state may have separate laws specific to being drunk in public.

Still, alcohol and drugs are often a common factor in disorderly conduct, as well as many other felonies including assault, drug crimes, violent crimes, drunk driving, and domestic violence. Take note, however, that in many states, one does not have to be intoxicated to be charged with disorderly conduct.

This area of the law is often subject to interpretation because even the definition of what constitutes disorderly conduct is not always clear-cut. If you have any questions regarding disorderly conduct, do not hesitate to contact a Gold River CA criminal defense attorney at the Chastaine Jones Criminal Defense Attorneys to have your concerns about criminal law addressed.

What Constitutes As Disorderly Conduct In California?

Disorderly Conduct

According to the California Penal Code, actions considered to be disorderly conduct are the following:

  • Doing dissolute or lewd acts in an area that is in public or accessible to the public,
  • Doing lewd acts that may be seen in public,
  • Soliciting acts of prostitution,
  • Engaging in prostitution,
  • Accosting or aggressively approaching someone to beg or ask for alms,
  • Loitering in public toilets to perform any lewd or illegal act,
  • Lodging in a place without permission from the owner,
  • Being in public while under the influence of any drugs, intoxicating liquor, or controlled substance such that he is not able to take care of himself or the others around him,
  • Obstructing public ways like streets or sidewalks rendering them unusable.

Strictly speaking, these are what the California Penal Code recognizes as “disorderly conduct” and may be punishable by six months of county jail time and fines of $1,000. However, there are other criminal offenses similar to disorderly conduct but are not filed under it.

This is the part where what constitutes disorderly conduct can get vague and confusing. If anything about the criminal justice system and the statutes surrounding criminal cases is unclear to you, don’t hesitate to seek legal counsel from our experienced criminal attorneys. They are knowledgeable on the criminal code, as well as state law.

Fighting, Noise, and Offensive Words

It is illegal in California to challenge someone to a fight or to fight in a public place. It is also illegal to use very loud noises to purposefully disturb others. Using offensive words to provoke someone in public to incite violence is also illegal.

Fighting in public, making loud, disturbing noises, and using offensive words are all listed as misdemeanors under the California Penal Code 415 PC. Punishment for these involves up to six months in jail, a $1,000 fine, or both.


According to the California Penal Code 404 PC, a riot consists of using violence or force illegally in a public space. Threatening to use violence or force also falls under this category. A riot is a form of misdemeanor and is punishable by up to six months in jail, a $1,000 fine, or both.

Disturbing the Peace on a School Campus

The California Penal Code 415 PC also prohibits non-students to enter a school campus and make loud noises and fight on the school grounds. These constitute misdemeanors and an offender is punishable by a fine of $400 and 90 days in jail, or both. Subsequent convictions may be subject to raised penalties.

Refusal to Disperse

If two or more people gather together to disturb the peace, the local police officers have to intercede and ask them to disperse. Refusal to obey law enforcement to disperse constitutes a criminal conviction of misdemeanor punishable by paying for the damages through restitution or community service, according to California Penal Code 415 PC.


The California Penal Code defines trespassing under 602 PC. Essentially, trespassing is entering another person’s property without their permission, but the code also lists down other acts as criminal trespass including taking soil, dirt, shellfish, or any other form of stolen property from someone’s land.

Most of these are only considered misdemeanors and are punishable by probation, six months in jail, or a fine amounting to $1,000.

When to Contact a Criminal Defense Lawyer

Even if these offenses seem minor especially because they are only classified as misdemeanors, you should not take them lightly because they are still considered a criminal offense

Being sentenced and convicted of a criminal misdemeanor or felony will leave you with a criminal record which may subject you to prejudices and may make it difficult for you to get a job later on. A criminal history of felonies and misdemeanors may also make it hard for you to join professional organizations.

If you are being charged with any of the misdemeanors above, contact one of our criminal defense lawyers immediately at the Chastaine Jones Criminal Defense Attorneys, a Gold River, California criminal defense Law firm. Our criminal defense attorneys are knowledgeable in criminal laws and will do their best to fight for you in criminal court.

Legal Defenses when Charged with Disorderly Conduct

Some of the common defenses a criminal lawyer may use to fight against a disorderly conduct case are no probable cause, falsely accused, and no prohibited act. We often present these defenses to the prosecutor and the court to have our clients’ criminal charges reduced or completely dismissed.

No Probable Cause

According to the U.S. Constitution’s Fourth Amendment, pursuant to arresting or detention, a law enforcement officer or peace officer must first have probable cause that a disorderly person’s offense is taking place. If we can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you have been arrested or detained without probable cause, then any information or evidence provided after the unlawful arrest could be discarded. This could lead to the expungement of your case soon after.

Falsely Accused

In some cases, the prosecution against someone would file a criminal case not on the grounds of any disrupting act or misconduct, but out of spite, anger, jealousy, or revenge. If proven that you are not guilty of these trumped-up charges, the dismissal of your conduct charge will follow soon after.

No Prohibited Act

Under the California Penal Code are certain acts that the state considers to be disorderly. The no prohibited act defense will show the court and the prosecutors that none of your actions were prohibited- that they were all lawful in the eyes of the law.

Not all criminal cases are the same and not all defenses are equal. If you are facing a disorderly conduct charge and expect to be prosecuted, don’t hesitate to contact a criminal attorney from our law offices to build your defense right away. Let us fight for you!

Share this Story

Do you find this topic fascinating? It’s likely that your friends share the same interest! Consider sharing this story on your social media to help others in their search for reliable information.

Contact Chastaine | Jones Today

Proven criminal defense team ready to fight for you!

Get to know our experienced criminal defense attorneys, Martin Jones, Mike Chastaine, Jessica Davis, and James Ryan. Do you need legal advice?
Contact our Roseville criminal defense law firm today!