Man being arrested for disturbing the peace

What Does it Mean to ‘Disturb the Peace’ in North Carolina?

You may have heard the phrase “disturbing the peace” in many TV shows or movies. But what does it actually mean? Disturbing the peace is another name for “disorderly conduct.”

You can be charged with disorderly conduct if a law enforcement officer believed that your conduct was a disturbance. If you fight the charge and it goes to trial, it will then become the responsibility of the judge to deem whether or not your actions constituted disorderly conduct. 

While it may not like a very serious charge, those convicted of disorderly conduct – even for the first time – may be met with jail time, fines, and most worrisome, a criminal record. 

Disorderly Conduct in NC

So what exactly is disorderly conduct under North Carolina state law? The North Carolina Code §14-288.4 defines disorderly conduct as “a public disturbance intentionally caused by any person” that is responsible for committing any one of a number of actions, including: 

  • Abusive language/gestures
  • Violent activity, such as fighting
  • Refusing to leave a building after being asked by an administrator or law enforcement official
  • Loitering after being told by law enforcement or other administrators to leave
  • Interfering with/disturbing religious activity 
  • Disrupting the teaching of students in an educational environment
  • Overtaking school premises without permission

A similar crime you can be charged with is called “failure to disperse.” This charge is sometimes used when at least three individuals do not leave a location after a certain amount of time as ordered by law enforcement or who create a risk of injury to someone else.

Find a Qualified NC Criminal Attorney

If you or a loved one has been charged with disorderly conduct or failure to disperse, having a qualified criminal attorney to help defend you can be the difference between a criminal record and a life forever impacted, and your freedom. This individual can best help you to obtain the best possible outcome. 

As a Class 2 misdemeanor, disorderly conduct can carry a sentence of 60 days in jail and a $1000 fine for a first time offender. However, in some situations the charge becomes classified as a Class 1 felony for a second offense, which can carry up to 12 months in prison if convicted. In those situations, subsequent convictions are classified as Class H felonies, which can carry as much as 25 months in prison.

An experienced and knowledgeable criminal attorney will work to gather the necessary evidence to attempt to get your charges lowered or even dismissed altogether. 

Hancock Law Firm, PLLC Helps Those in North Carolina Who Have Been Charged with Disorderly Conduct or Another Crime

A criminal conviction can have a very long-lasting impact on your life. Not only can it affect your ability to obtain or keep certain jobs, but also it can have a permanent impact on your reputation. That’s why it is in your best interest to consult with a knowledgeable and experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. 

At Hancock Law Firm, PLLC, we fully understand what is at stake and will do everything that we can to help you fight these charges and obtain the best possible outcome for you. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation, contact us today!