When critics use hyperbole to criticise politicians it needs to be considered that when done in public, it may result in an immediate breach of the public order – by causing a physical fight.

Most jurisdictions typically categorize disorderly conduct as any behavior that is likely to cause other people alarm, anger, annoyance, or an increased likelihood to engage in unlawful activity. Let’s take a look at what disorderly conduct covers.

Circumstances: Many disorderly conduct cases involve behavior that would not otherwise be disorderly if it occurred in a different location or at a different time. For example, someone shouting loudly in a residential neighborhood street late at night is engaging in disorderly conduct, while someone using the exact same language and voice volume in an industrial area in the middle of a weekday is not.

Objectivity: When a prosecutor charges someone with disorderly conduct, it isn’t always necessary for the prosecution to show that another person was alarmed by the accused’s conduct. Courts apply an objective standard when determining disorderly conduct laws. This means that a prosecutor must only show that a reasonable person would have been alarmed by the conduct

Location: Some states prohibit disorderly conduct in a public area, or conduct that disturbs the public order, though others do not require the behavior to occur in public or affect the public. Courts have held that public areas include such places as public restroom stalls, carnivals, hospital emergency rooms, and even private buildings available for public rental and entertainment. When the conduct occurs in private, courts have held that any conduct that disturbs others—typically neighbors—satisfies the public requirement. When the law doesn’t require a public element, it’s enough for the conduct to disrupt or disturb a single person’s peace of mind.

Specific Types of Activity

Because of the differences in the laws defining disorderly conduct, what constitutes such conduct in one state may not count as disorderly in another. However, a range of behaviors often qualifies as disorderly conduct, regardless of the state or municipality in which it occurs.

  • Fighting: Many states and city prosecutors punish fighting, brawling, or physical scuffles as disorderly conduct, even though more serious charges of assault or battery may apply. However, the circumstances of each case often determine whether a prosecutor charges the accused with assault, battery, disorderly conduct, or more serious charges.
  • Protests: While engaging in peaceful protests is a constitutionally protected right, engaging in disruptive protests is not. For example, courts have held that participants in a sit-in demonstration engaged in disorderly conduct because they blocked traffic on a pedestrian walkway.
  • Disturbing an assembly: Interrupting a city council meeting, a public rally, or religious ceremony can be enough to qualify as disorderly conduct.
  • Public misconduct: Engaging in what is normally private conduct in a public place is often charged as disorderly conduct. Public urination, public masturbation, and public intoxication can constitute disorderly conduct.

By Editor

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