Disorderly Conduct

Experienced Tempe Criminal Defense Lawyers Skillfully Defending Clients Facing Public Order Crimes

In Arizona, disorderly conduct is a public order offense that criminalizes certain types of behavior that negatively impacts others’ ability to feel safe or enjoy themselves. Disorderly conduct can be either a class 6 felony or class 1 misdemeanor, depending on which subsection of the statute applies. However, there are defenses to disorderly conduct, and it is important to have a dedicated Tempe criminal defense lawyer review your case to ensure you reach the best outcome possible.

At the Law Office of James E. Novak, we proudly help good people who are facing serious crimes, providing them with the exceptional representation designed that is custom-tailored to their specific situation. We understand the best defenses to disorderly conduct and what it takes to beat even the toughest cases.

What Is Disorderly Conduct in Arizona?

Arizona’s disorderly conduct law is contained in A.R.S § 13-2904, which provides that a person commits disorderly conduct if they act with the intent to disturb the peace and commit any of the following acts:

  • Engage in fighting, violent, or seriously disruptive behavior;
  • Make a commotion that interferes with a business transaction or meeting;
  • Recklessly handle a firearm or other dangerous weapon;
  • Use offensive language or gestures that are likely to provoke another person;
  • Make a lot of noise for no valid reason; and
  • Refuse to obey a lawful order to disperse when near a fire or during another emergency.
What Is the Punishment for an Arizona Disorderly Conduct Conviction?

In most cases, a conviction for disorderly conduct results in you ending up with a class 1 misdemeanor on your record. In Arizona, a class 1 misdemeanor is punishable by up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $2,500.

However, if you were charged with disorderly conduct based on your reckless handling of a firearm or other deadly weapon or dangerous instrument, the offense will be a class 6 felony. A conviction for a class 6 felony carries a jail sentence of up to two years unless you have a prior felony conviction, in which case, you may face up to 5.75 years in jail.

Defenses to Disorderly Conduct

There are several defenses that may apply in disorderly conduct cases, including the following:

Sufficiency of the Evidence - Before a judge or jury can convict you of a crime, the government must prove every element of the crime you’ve been charged with beyond a reasonable doubt. If a criminal defense attorney successfully argues that the government lacks evidence to establish even just one element, you cannot be found guilty.

Freedom of Speech – The First Amendment guarantees your freedom of speech, and the government cannot punish you for exercising your constitutional right to engage in free speech. However, there are limits to the speech that is protected by the First Amendment. For example, fighting words and other comments intended to elicit a physical response are not protected.

No Intent to Disturb – Any of the actions described above, on their own, can’t result in a disorderly conduct conviction because the government also needs to prove that you intended to disturb the peace. For example, yelling out a curse word in the hardware store after dropping a 2x4 on your foot is probably an instinctive reaction and not one designed to disturb the peace.

Self-Defense – For disorderly conduct charges under subsection A.R.S § 13-2904(A)(1) (“engaging in fighting”), acting in self-defense or in the defense of others can result in a not guilty verdict. If you are defending yourself, you necessarily do not have the intent to disturb the peace.

Are You Facing Charges Related to Disorderly Conduct?

If you were recently arrested and charged with disorderly conduct, burglary or other public order offenses, it is important that you consider your options before deciding how to handle your case. At the Law Office of James E. Novak, we have decades of experience aggressively defending the rights of clients charged with disorderly conduct, assault, public intoxication, and other public nuisance crimes. To learn more, and to schedule a free consultation today, call Attorney Novak at (480) 413-1499. You can also connect with us through our secure online contact form.

Client Reviews
I was facing criminal charges with three priors in my history. Mr Novak was very helpful and got me a lighter sentence than I probably deserved. He is a great attorney and I would highly recommend him. A. T.
James worked tirelessly behind the scenes with the prosecution, to decrease my son’s charges to a more reasonable penalty. I could not have asked for a better, more professional attorney. He treated my son with the utmost respect and walked him through every step of a very difficult situation. S. G.
Attorney Novak did an outstanding job defending my son. Due to his extensive professional background within the court system, he was successfully able to defend my son during a very difficult time for my family. I highly recommend Attorney James Novak for your legal needs. T. G.