New York’s disorderly conduct statute addresses a variety of prohibited behaviors, such as blocking traffic, fighting, or disrupting a meeting. False alarms, rioting, loitering, and disrupting funerals are also activities that can result in a disorderly conduct charge. To be convicted, an accused person must intentionally behave in a way that upsets, annoys, or inconveniences the public.
State Penalties for Disorderly Conduct:
The following activities are classified as disorderly conduct and can be punished by a $250 fine and up to 15 days in jail.
● Fighting and other violent, threatening behavior
● Making excessive and unreasonable noise
● Using obscene language or making an obscene gesture in public ● Disturbing a lawful assembly without authorization
● Obstructing traffic or pedestrians
● Congregating with others in public and refusing a lawful police order to disperse
● Creating a dangerous or offensive condition by any act that has no legitimate purpose Disrupting a funeral or religious service, rioting or inciting riots, and raising a false alarm are Class A misdemeanors that can result in a year in jail and a $1000 fine.
Loitering for the purpose of prostitution or buying / using drugs can be classed as an A or B misdemeanor. If the latter, violations are punishable by up to 3 months in jail and a $500 fine. Unlawful assembly is a class B misdemeanor in New York, but if property damage or personal injury results from a riot consisting of eleven or more people, it is a Class E felony punishable by up to 4 years in prison and a $5,000 fine. Falsely reporting a fire, bomb, or explosion and placing a fake bomb in a non-public place are also Class E felonies. Major cases of false alarm or placing a fake bomb in any other public place are Class D felonies, and can lead to 1-7 years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000.
When is the best time to act?:
When someone receives a summons for disorderly conduct, they should have a criminal defense attorney review the second page, which is where the police officer must write the reason for the disorderly conduct charge. An experienced attorney can determine whether the allegations in the summons should be dismissed.
Harassment, criminal nuisance, interference with health care services, aggravated family offense, appearance in public under the influence of narcotics or a drug other than alcohol
Difference between New York State and Federal statutes:
A person can be charged with disorderly conduct under federal law if the disruptive behavior takes place on Federal properties, such as national parks. A person found guilty can be fined under title 18 of the United States Code, imprisoned for not more than 30 days, or both.
Failure to prove intent to inconvenience the public, non-public activity, and inability of the officer to prove the necessary elements for disorderly conduct are all viable defenses.
High profile/Government cases:
On May 13, 2014 actor Alec Baldwin was arrested in New York City after he became hostile toward a police officer who stopped him on his bike. Baldwin was riding the wrong way and refused to provide identification when asked. He received a summons for disorderly conduct and a traffic violation.