Disorderly Conduct in D.C.

Disorderly conduct is a criminal charge that, depending on the jurisdiction, can include a broad range of different actions. Focused primarily on behavior that disturbs the peace, offends public morality, or undermines public safety, the offense typically includes being drunk in public; public urination; using loud, threatening or obscene language; or loitering in prohibited areas.

Similarly, the offense in Washington, D.C. takes a number of forms.  For example, it is illegal:

  • to urinate or to defecate in public except in a urinal or toilet;
  • to intentionally or recklessly put someone else in reasonable fear of person or property;
  • to incite or provoke violence in a public area;
  • to direct abusive or offensive language at another person in a public area in a manner likely to provoke retaliation or violence;
  • to engage in loud, threatening or abusive language, or disruptive conduct, with the intent of impeding or disturbing the orderly conduct of a lawful public gathering;
  • to make unreasonably loud noise between 10:00 pm and 7:00 am that is likely to annoy or disturb others;
  • to stealthily look into a window or other opening of a dwelling under circumstances in which an occupant would have a reasonable expectation of privacy;
  • to unnecessarily jostle or crowd another person or to place a hand near another person’s handbag, pocketbook, or wallet.  D.C. Criminal Code § 22-1321.

Although the penalty for violating this statute is a $500 fine and up to 90 days of imprisonment, first-time offenders should be eligible for some type of diversion program, including a “post-and-forfeit” arrangement or a deferred prosecution agreement.

Please contact Jamison Koehler at 202-549-2374 or jkoehler@koehlerlaw.net if you have been charged with disorderly conduct.  Mr. Koehler has extensive experience representing clients in precisely this type of case.

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