Disorderly Conduct Law in Phoenix, Arizona: ARS 13-2904

Many in Arizona refer to this as disturbing the peace. The disorderly conduct charge is abused by police every day, and can be used in just about any circumstance due to the broadness of the way the law (or statute) was written. Many times as lawyers we find that local AZ police will include a disorderly conduct charge to just about any other criminal charge.

Why could you be charged with disorderly conduct?

The law or the statute ARS 13-2904 prohibits the following types of conduct, as you can see many of the behaviors below are broad and have been used to unnecessarily arrest Phoenix, Arizona residents:

  1. Engage in fight, violence, or seriously disruptive behavior.
  2. Make unreasonable noise.
  3. Use abusive or offensive language or gestures in a manner that’s likely to provoke an immediate physical retaliation.
  4. Make protracted commotion, utterance or display with the intent to prevent transaction of the business of a lawful, meeting, gather or procession.
  5. Refuse to obey a lawful order to disperse issued to maintain public safety in dangerous proximity to a fire, a hazard or any other emergency.
  6. Recklessly handle, display, or discharge a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument.

What are the penalties for disorderly conduct in Phoenix?

  • Felony Disorderly Conduct: When charged with disorderly conduct involving a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument, it’s a class 6 felony which has a maximum of 2 years of imprisonment. (see ARS 13-702)
  • Misdemeanor Disorderly Conduct: Unless the charge involves a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument or aggravated, disorderly conduct is a class 1 misdemeanor. A class 1 misdemeanor carries $3600 in fines and surcharges, up to 6 months’ jail, and a maximum of 3 years of probation. Should you be convicted of a domestic violence disorderly conduct, you will most likely lose the right to own or possess firearms, and must complete at least 26 weeks of the State’s mandated domestic violence program.

Felony convictions include more severe punishments, including prison, higher fines, and harsher probation. Someone charged with disorderly conduct could face up to two years in prison if the felony disorderly conduct is charged as a dangerous offense. However, often times, felony disorderly conduct is charged with an allegation of dangerousness because a deadly or dangerous instrument was used. When convicted of a felony disorderly conduct probation is not allowed to be offered. Should it be your first offense of dangerous disorderly conduct, you possibly will face between 1.5 and 3 years in prison. However, if you have a record of felony convictions in the past, you could face as much as 6 years in prison. Once convicted of a felony in Phoenix you will face a loss of civil rights and gun rights. We have seen felony conviction severely impacts employment, finances, civil rights, and future opportunities. Because the consequences of such a broad law you need to be aggressive in choosing the right criminal justice lawyer when you are arrested and charged with disorderly conduct.

What is a common defense to disorderly conduct?

  • The person charged didn’t have the right state of mind. To be charged you must have had the intent to disturb the peace, or known that your conduct was disturbing the peace. If it was simply a reasonable mistake or accident, it’s not a criminal charge. If you have been charged with disorderly conduct for disturbing the peace of a neighborhood, your conduct may be measured against an objective standard, and the state doesn’t need to prove a particular person was disturbed. It’s enough if the Defendant, at least, should have known that the conduct would have disturbed the peace of anyone in the neighborhood.

If instead, you are charged with disorderly conduct for disturbing the peace of someone, in particular, the state MUST prove that you knowingly disturbed that victim’s peace, or that you intended to disturb that his or her peace. The statute defining disorderly conduct doesn’t require that one actually disturb the peace of another through certain acts. Rather, the statute requires the commission of certain acts with intent to disturb the peace, or with knowledge of so doing.

  • There was no criminal act. The Arizona law is clearly stated, that the disorderly conduct statute is not unconstitutionally broad or ambiguous; however, the statute’s broad language can often can help you or someone charged with a disorderly conduct crime. This is because a criminal defense lawyer can point out the shortcomings of the alleged conduct as it compares to previous Arizona court decisions interpreting the disorderly conduct statute. There’s a difference between merely rude or offensive behavior and criminal conduct. The state of Arizona criminalizes behavior, under the disorderly conduct statute, only when it involves fighting, violence, or seriously disruptive behavior. Seriously disruptive behavior is of the same general nature as fighting or violence or conduct liable to provoke that response in others. The disruption must be serious—something that causes considerable distress, anxiety, or inconvenience.
  • 1st Amendment, Free Speech. The right to free speech is protected by the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution. The right to free speech, however, is not absolute. The constitution doesn’t allow fighting words. Fighting words that inflict injury or tend to incite an immediate breach of the peace are not afforded constitutional protection. Fighting words are those words that are inherently likely to provoke a violent reaction when addressed to the ordinary citizen. Offensive language is not disorderly conduct unless it amounts to fighting words.

We can provide the following benefits when representing you against disorderly conduct charge:

  • Transparent Flat Fees and Payment Plans:  We know that one’s stress once charged with disorderly conduct can be severe. We want to be as transparent as possible and keep the cost of your defense up front with no hidden fees or costs.
  • Attention and Excellent Communication: We use a team approach as we have seen this have the best result for our clients. Many prosecutors and judges have a predisposition to certain lawyers. In our experience, we have seen the outcome of a case be drastically different solely because the personality of the defense attorney and his or her relationship with a judge or prosecutor.
  •  Disorderly Conduct Case Evaluations: We would love the opportunity to represent you with your disorderly conduct charge. However, we know that every case is unique and the circumstances surrounding it. We don’t take all cases. Call us to schedule a time for one of our defense attorneys to review your case.

Schedule a legal consultation with our criminal lawyers in Phoenix today!