In Pennsylvania, even less serious criminal offenses can have far-reaching consequences. For instance, being involved in a minor fight can lead to a charge of disorderly conduct. Even minor offenses can have serious consequences. If you have been charged with disorderly conduct or another minor offense, it is important to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney who may be able to get your charges reduced or even dismissed.
Disorderly Conduct Defined
A person can be found guilty of disorderly conduct if a prosecutor can establish that he or she intended to cause public inconvenience, annoyance, alarm, or recklessly created these risks by:
- Engaging in fighting or in violent or tumultuous behavior;
- Making unreasonable noise;
- Using obscene language;
- Making an obscene gesture; or
- Creating a hazardous or physically offensive condition by an act which does not serve the legitimate purposes of the actor.
To be considered a public place for the purposes of the statute, a place must be open to the public. This could include any of the following locations:
- Transport facilities;
- Apartment houses;
- Places of business or amusement; and
Summary Offenses v. Misdemeanors
Generally, disorderly conduct is charged as a summary offense, which is the most minor type of crime in Pennsylvania and usually only results in a fine. In many cases, those who are convicted of summary offenses were teenagers at the time of the incident. Fortunately, summary offenses can be expunged as long as the person has turned 18 years old and it has been six months since the fine was paid. However, if a person is over the age of 18 years old at the time of the offense, he or she must wait five years after the date of arrest before they can obtain an expungement. Even though summary offenses are considered less serious than misdemeanors, they can still lead to a three month prison sentence and a $300 fine and will appear on a person’s permanent record, which can make it difficult to obtain housing or employment opportunities.
Although disorderly conduct is usually considered a summary offense, it can be charged as a third degree misdemeanor in some cases. For instance, a defendant who intended to cause substantial harm or serious inconvenience or who persisted in the conduct after being warned to desist is more likely to be charged with a third degree misdemeanor. Third degree misdemeanors are punishable by up to one year in prison and a $2,000 fine.
Contact an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney Today
At van der Veen, Hartshorn and Levin, we understand that even minor offenses can have serious consequences, including jail time, fines, and a permanent criminal record. Our team is dedicated to helping our clients formulate a solid defense and move on with their lives. If you live in Pennsylvania and have been charged with a criminal offense, please contact us today by calling (215) 486-0123 or by initiating a live chat with a member of our dedicated legal team.