Disturbing the peace is one of a few different crimes that falls under the larger net of disorderly conduct here in Illinois. There are numerous actions that qualify as disturbing the peace, but how does the Illinois court system handle the charge? We take a closer look at disturbing the peace and disorderly conduct crimes in today’s blog.
What Constitutes Disturbing The Peace?
Under Illinois law, disturbing the peace is classified as any action “performed in such unreasonable manner as to alarm or disturb another and to provoke a breach of the peace.” This means you can be hit with a disturbing the peace charge (cited as a disorderly conduct ticket) for any of the following actions:
- Getting into a loud argument with a neighbor
- Blaring music at night
- Making a false report of a bomb or fire
- Making a phony 911 or emergency services call
- Getting in a bar fight
- Swearing repeatedly in a public arena
- Refusing to leave private property when asked
- Interrupting a performance or assembly
Not every action is explicitly listed, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be charged with disturbing the peace. Essentially, any unreasonable action that disrupts or disturbs citizens or public figures can be met with a disorderly conduct charge for disturbing the peace.
Disturbing The Peace Defenses and Penalties
There are a number of ways you can contest a disorderly conduct charge for disturbing the peace. Here are a couple of ways you can challenge the citation:
Self Defense – If you got ticketed for disorderly conduct for getting in a bar fight, you can contest the charge by proving the other party started the altercation or that you were simply attempting to protect yourself or another person from harm.
Protected Speech – The First Amendment of the Constitution provides Americans with the right to free speech, so long as it is within reason. Yelling “fire” in a crowded theater or spewing racist remarks at a town hall meeting will lead to charges, but if you can prove that you were within your rights when speaking, you may get the charge dropped.
Failure to Follow Protocol – You can also challenge how the police handled the case if you feel they violated due process. For example, maybe they illegally entered your house while attempting to tell you to turn your music down. There are a variety of protocols that need to be followed, and if the police cross the line, you could have your case dropped.
If you are found in violation of disturbing the peace as described in the first section, you’ll find yourself charged with a Class C misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a fine up to $1,500. You may also be sentenced to between 30 and 120 hours of community service. Should your actions be more severe, endanger the safety of citizens or cause widespread panic, the charge can be upgraded to a Class B or Class A misdemeanor, or you may even face felony charges. Felony charges can result in up to five years in prison and fines up to $10,000.
Disturbing the peace may not sound like a big deal, but as you can see, jail time and fines can stack up in a hurry. If you find yourself facing a disorderly conduct charge for disturbing the peace, contact an Illinois Criminal defense attorney today.