In California, you can be charged with disturbing the peace for seemingly minor actions. California Penal Code 415 makes it illegal for any person to:
- Unlawfully fight in a public place or challenge another person in a public place to fight.
- Maliciously and willfully disturb another person by loud and unreasonable noise.
- Use offensive words, which are likely to provoke an immediate violent reaction, in a public place.
Under these rules, you may be arrested for nothing more than shouting or using profanity in public. Burga Law Firm PC has been very successful in fighting disturbing the peace charges. We have helped many of our clients avoid consequences and obtaining dismissals and reducing the charge to an infraction.
What to Do if You're Charged with Disturbing the Peace
Penal Code 415 breaks down disturbing the peace charges into three different types: fighting, noise, and offensive words in public. It's essential to contact an experienced defense attorney no matter the type of charge. Disturbing the peace charges can carry serious consequences and may also include related crimes like battery or trespassing.
A defense attorney will attend your hearing and fight on your behalf to dismiss or reduce your charges. In California, prosecutors must prove one of the following to convict you of disturbing the peace:
- You willfully intended to fight another person in public.
- You willfully and maliciously caused loud and unreasonable noise that disturbed others.
- You used words in a public place that were likely to provoke violence.
Since the burden of proof is on the prosecutor, experienced defense attorneys are frequently able to reduce or dismiss disturbing the peace charges. They can argue that you were falsely accused, or there was no criminal intent behind your behavior.
The Consequences for Disturbing the Peace
California does not take disturbing the peace charges lightly. Punishment includes imprisonment for no more than 90 days and fines up to $400. A misdemeanor conviction for disturbing the peace will also be a part of your criminal record. Under California Penal Code 415.5, you can face additional punishment if the act occurs on school grounds or by a repeat offender. It's crucial that you contact an attorney after being arrested. They can protect you from jail time, fines, and a criminal record.