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Rhode Island’s Disorderly Conduct law is basically a “catch-all” criminal charge for many types of minor misdemeanor offenses, also referred to as a petty misdemeanor.
There are so many different factual scenarios that can lead to a criminal offense of disorderly conduct under RI disorderly conduct law, it is critical that you have an experienced, knowledgeable, and aggressive Rhode Island Disorderly Conduct lawyer defending you in court.
In Rhode Island, Disorderly Conduct is a relatively minor criminal charge but it is one that must be taken seriously.
Disorderly conduct is a misdemeanor criminal offense (not a felony) that carries up to 6 months in jail as well as other significant consequences such as a criminal record, fines, community service and alcohol or mental health counseling if convicted.
I have defended countless RI disorderly conduct cases as both a state prosecutor and as a criminal defense attorney and there is absolutely nothing I have not seen or defended.
All Rhode Island criminal defense lawyers are NOT the same, not even close, and the results in disorderly conduct criminal cases vary widely depending on the effectiveness, or ineffectiveness, of the defense attorney representing you.
My goal is to have every disorderly conduct charge DISMISSED AND EXPUNGED from the criminal record for every client charged with disorderly conduct or domestic disorderly conduct.
When I say Rhode Island law is a “catch-all” criminal offense, this is what I mean. This is Rhode Island’s disorderly conduct law, which covers 7 different types of criminal offenses:
§ 11-45-1 Disorderly conduct. – (a) A person commits disorderly conduct if he or she intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly:
(1) Engages in fighting or threatening, or in violent or tumultuous behavior;
(2) In a public place or near a private residence that he or she has no right to occupy, disturbs another person by making loud and unreasonable noise which under the circumstances would disturb a person of average sensibilities;
(3) Directs at another person in a public place offensive words which are likely to provoke a violent reaction on the part of the average person so addressed;
(4) Alone or with others, obstructs a highway, street, sidewalk, railway, waterway, building entrance, elevator, aisle, stairway, or hallway to which the public or a substantial group of the public has access or any other place ordinarily used for the passage of persons, vehicles, or conveyances;
(5) Engages in conduct which obstructs or interferes physically with a lawful meeting, procession, or gathering;
(6) Enters upon the property of another and for a lascivious purpose looks into an occupied dwelling or other building on the property through a window or other opening; or
(7) Who without the knowledge or consent of the individual, looks for a lascivious purpose through a window, or any other opening into an area in which another would have a reasonable expectation of privacy…
— To see TITLE 11 Criminal Offenses CHAPTER 11-45 – Disorderly Conduct SECTION 11-45-1 click here
When you read the disorderly conduct law above, you realize there are so many possible scenarios that could lead to a person being arrested for disorderly conduct in Rhode Island.
This is why it is so important to have the most qualified and experienced criminal defense lawyer defending your disorderly conduct or domestic disorderly conduct criminal charges.
Virtually any socially offensive or disruptive conduct constitutes a Rhode Island disorderly conduct charge under the Rhode Island General law and can lead to your arrest.
Some of the types of behaviors commonly included in a misdemeanor disorderly conduct charge include:
Having handled countless disorderly conduct and domestic disorderly conduct charges as a criminal lawyer on both sides of the courtroom, I can tell you this list makes up the most common scenarios leading to a disorderly conduct arrest and appearance in District Court.
A skilled and knowledgeable criminal defense attorney knows the ins and outs of the disorderly conduct law and gives you the best chance at avoiding a criminal record, fines, suspended sentence, or probation:
RI disorderly conduct cases in this category generally bar fights or other confrontations involving a lot of people, or confrontations with police officers and law enforcement.
It is tough for the police to figure out who threw the first punch, so everyone gets arrested for disorderly conduct.
Often, the disorderly conduct charge will also come with assault, resisting arrest or obstruction of justice charges as well.
Police are always willing to pile on as many criminal offenses as possible when making an arrest.
Depending on the time of day, if you make too much noise and a neighbor alerts the police, you could find yourself facing a Rhode Island disorderly conduct charge.
Typically, noise complaints occur late at night or early in the morning. However, this isn’t a requirement.
A potential disorderly conduct charge or domestic disorderly conduct offense can happen any time there is an unreasonable level of noise.
Although you might not realize it, offensive language can result in a criminal case of disorderly conduct in Rhode Island.
Of course, we all enjoy a 1st Amendment Right to freedom of speech, but that does not cover all speech.
Yelling “fire” in a crowded theatre, or using racially charged words in an attempt to provoke confrontation could result in an arrest for disorderly conduct.
A police officer can arrest you for disruptive behaviors. For example, the reckless handling of a firearm can be seen as disruptive and lead to a disorderly conduct arrest. Failing to leave a business if asked to do so by an employee is another example of disruptive behavior which could lead to a disorderly conduct criminal case. Further, blocking or impeding traffic can lead to a charge of disorderly conduct in Rhode Island, subjecting you to multiple court appearances and criminal misdemeanor penalties.
If a criminal defendant pleads nolo contendere or guilty in district court to a charge of disorderly conduct there are many potential penalties that could be requested by the prosecutor or judge.
Having the best criminal defense lawyer representing you gives you the best chance to avoid these penalties.
All criminal defense attorneys are NOT the same, not even close, and results in criminal cases vary widely depending on your criminal defense lawyer’s effectiveness, or ineffectiveness.
Common sense tells us that a criminal attorney with 30 years of experience with RI criminal law is more knowledgeable and experienced than a defense lawyer with less experience.
Although disorderly conduct is considered a minor offense (petty misdemeanor), these penalties can be harsh and have a long-lasting effect on your life and your reputation.
Hiring the most competent legal counsel to represent you in your RI disorderly conduct case can have a huge effect on the outcome of your charges.
My goal in every client’s case is to provide legal advice that gets the criminal charges DISMISSED and then EXPUNGED from the criminal record forever.
Under the Rhode Island Domestic Violence law, a disorderly conduct charge which occurs between people with a domestic relationship is called domestic disorderly conduct and carries additional penalties.
While it is still considered a misdemeanor, a domestic disorderly conduct offense is considered a crime of domestic violence and is more difficult to expunge from a criminal record.
Hiring an aggressive and experienced domestic violence defense attorney gives you the best chance at avoiding this additional wait time to have your criminal record expunged.
A domestic disorderly conduct charge is often accompanied by a domestic assault, domestic battery or other domestic offense witnessed by the police.
As with any domestic violence charge, the judge at your first court appearance (called an arraignment) will issue a restraining order preventing a criminal defendant from having any contact whatsoever with the domestic spouse or domestic partner.
Prosecutors and courts take domestic violence and domestic disorderly conduct charges very seriously, and you should not leave your life and reputation in the hands of a less experienced criminal defense lawyer.
If a criminal defendant pleads nolo contendere (guilty) to domestic disorderly conduct or is found guilty by a judge or jury, this domestic violence conviction now requires domestic violence counseling classes.
Also known as a batterer’s intervention program, it requires full participation in 26 weeks of domestic violence classes in addition to any other penalties handed down by the criminal court.
The law can be extra harsh as it relates to domestic violence and domestic disorderly conduct.
Check out RI domestic violence for more information about RI domestic violence.