Although it may sound like a rather minor event, disturbing the peace is a chargeable offense in Texas that can result in significant penalties like jail time and fines.
Criminal defense lawyers warn that it is a criminal offense, which means you will end up with a criminal record if convicted.
Avoid this criminal charge by understanding what is classified as disturbing the peace and what will happen if you are charged.
What Is Considered Disturbing the Peace in Texas?
Disturbing the peace, also known as disorderly conduct, is when someone does something that disrupts peace in the community or disturbs the public order of things.
It is a statutory law, which means every state has its own laws on what it encompasses and what the penalties may include and is a very common charge that defense attorneys see because the definitions are so broad.
In the state of Texas, a charge of disturbing the peace can be made for these and related actions:
- Engaging in conduct that is illegal, can cause danger, or creates a public disturbance.
- Being willfully engaged in that behavior in a public place.
- Having negative intentions when engaging in the behavior.
Based on these points, Texas law suggests that behaviors like fighting, shouting at people in a negative manner, threatening people with violence, rowdiness due to intoxication, actions that cause others to fear for themselves, disrupting public gatherings, interfering with a business, touching a person without permission, and many other actions can be classified as public disturbances.
How Is Intention Interpreted In Disturbing the Peace?
Because there is a definite difference between chargeable and nonchargeable actions in cases of public disturbance, criminal defense lawyers point out that differentiating the two comes down to intention.
Although annoying as it may be, a group of people shouting and making noise in a positive way at a gathering are not considered to be disturbing the peace; however, that same group yelling insults or threats at others and trying to rile others up are displaying disorderly conduct.
Considering this, it’s easy to see that peace disturbance is a gray area in the law and very subjective to the situation.
What Are the Penalties for Disturbing the Peace?
Disturbing the peace is usually charged as an infraction and a misdemeanor crime; however, in severe instances it can be charged as a felony.
Penalties can include fines, community service, and jail time as well as being required to attend anger management or alcohol education courses, depending on the situation.
In either case, you will have a permanent criminal record which could affect you in many other ways after the initial penalties have been paid and served.
Conviction of an infraction may also affect your ability to obtain employment, especially when asked whether you have ever been convicted of disturbing the peace on an application.
Talk to A Criminal Defense Lawyer
If you’ve been charged with disturbing the peace in Texas, it’s important to take it seriously and immediately contact a defense attorney.
As this charge is so subjective and situational, a lawyer can help you build a good defense that takes the intentions of your actions into consideration and ensures your case is fairly decided.
Reynaldo Garza, III - Attorney at Law
680 East St. Charles St, Suite 600
Brownsville TX 78520