What is Disorderly Conduct in Texas?

Spring Break season is here, and from South Padre Island to Daytona Beach, you can be sure that arrests for disorderly conduct will be part of the week for some folks. In Texas, “disorderly conduct” is a common criminal charge that covers a relatively broad range of behavior. It can take the form of sights, sounds, smells, and other conduct that tends to offend or is likely to lead to a disturbance. Whether you have been charged with disorderly conduct for allegedly fighting with someone in public or invading someone’s privacy, it is critical to contact a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.

Disorderly Conduct Defined

Texas Penal Code Section 42.01 contains an extensive list of actions and activities that constitute disorderly conduct and can get you charged for that offense. These include:

  • using abusive, indecent, profane, or vulgar language in a public place that is likely to incite an immediate breach of the peace;
  • making an offensive gesture or display in a public place that is likely to incite an immediate breach of the peace;
  • creating, by chemical means, a noxious and unreasonable odor in a public place;
  • abusing or threatening a person in a public place in an obviously offensive manner;
  • making unreasonable noise in a public place other than a sport shooting range, or in or near a private residence that he has no right to occupy;
  • fighting with another in a public place;
  • discharging a firearm in a public place other than a public road or a sport shooting range;
  • displaying a firearm or other deadly weapon in a public place in a manner calculated to alarm or discharging a firearm on or across a public road;
  • exposing a person’s anus or genitals in a public place and being reckless about whether another may be present who will be offended or alarmed by this act.

In addition to all the actions in a public place described above, “peeping tom” conduct such as going onto someone’s property and looking into their window or doing the same to someone else’s hotel room, a restroom or changing room for lewd or unlawful purposes will get you a disorderly conduct charge.

Penalties

Most disorderly conduct charges are classified as Class C misdemeanors that are punishable by a fine of up to $500. However, the firearm-related acts described above are Class B misdemeanors which can result in a sentence of up to 180 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,000. Keep in mind that disorderly conduct charges are frequently accompanied by other charges, such as assault, public intoxication, or resisting arrest than potentially carry more serious penalties.

There are numerous ways to fight disorderly conduct and related charges. If you have been charged with disorderly conduct, it’s important to protect your reputation and your freedom. Contact an experienced Texas criminal defense lawyer at your earliest opportunity.