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Disorderly conduct charges could affect your future

Your day may have begun innocently, or you may have set out to make a point. Whatever your intentions, police arrested you for disorderly conduct. Many states also refer to this as disturbing the peace.

Disorderly conduct is often a catch-all law that may encompass a variety of behaviors at various levels of severity. In fact, Oklahoma law separates these levels into two categories: disturbing the peace and grossly disturbing the peace.

Misbehaving in public

Authorities may charge you with disturbing the peace for any of the following:

  • Fighting, threatening to fight or challenging someone to a fight
  • Using loud, obscene or abusive language
  • Being unusually loud
  • Brandishing or discharging a firearm

If police arrested you and alleged that you did any of these things to purposely or maliciously disrupt the peace of your neighborhood — or even of an individual person — you are likely facing a charge of disturbing the peace. The penalties for a conviction include a $100 fine and up to 30 days in jail. However, the penalties are more serious for grossly disturbing the peace, which includes behaviors such as these:

  • Willfully injuring someone
  • Willfully causing great damage to someone's property
  • Causing an outrage in public or offending common decency or morality

While these acts are also misdemeanors, a judge may sentence you up to $500 in fines and a year in jail. Oklahoma law considers it a riot if you engage in any of these behaviors during a public emergency or fail to disperse when authorities ask you to. In this case, they may charge you with a felony.

A misdemeanor is not something to shrug off

You may think that you will look back on this incident as a childish prank, but if a judge finds you guilty, that childish prank will be on your criminal record. Future employers may think twice about hiring you if they interpret this offense as an example of poor judgment, issues with authority or risk-taking behavior. The best option may be to keep the offense off your record by avoiding a conviction or negotiating for a deferred sentence.

An experienced attorney will know how to present your case to the court and advocate on your behalf. If your misdemeanor charges carry jail time, your attorney may be able to work for a probationary sentence that will potentially be eligible for expungement. Depending on the circumstances of your arrest, your attorney may be able to have the charges reduced or dismissed.

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