Have you been arrested for disturbing the peace in San Diego? While disturbing the peace may seem like a relatively minor crime, a conviction can change the course of your life forever. If you want to protect your future, it will be important to assert a strong defense. Contact San Diego criminal defense attorney Vikas Bajaj to find out how he can help you minimize the consequences of your arrest.
For more than 16 years, Attorney Bajaj has dedicated his practice to defending clients against a variety of serious criminal charges, including those for disturbing the peace. His aggressive approach makes it tough for the state to build a case against his clients. As a result, he is often able to get the charges against his clients reduced or dismissed. Call the Law Office of Vikas Bajaj, APC today to request a free consultation.
Disturbing the Peace in San Diego
California’s disorderly conduct law prohibits various disruptive and potentially dangerous actions. Penal Code 415 PC defines the crime of disorderly conduct to include any of the following behaviors:
- Unlawfully righting or challenging another person to fight in public
- Willfully and maliciously disturbing another person by making loud and unreasonable noise, and
- Using offensive words in a public place.
Disturbing the Peace by Fighting in Public
If you are facing criminal charges for disturbing the peace by fighting in public, the state must be able to prove each of the following elements of the crime in order to get a conviction:
- You willfully and unlawfully fought or challenged someone else to fight,
- You fought or challenged another person to a fight while you were in a public place, and
- You were not acting in self-defense.
You will be considered to have acted willfully if you engaged in the conduct intentionally and on purpose.
Example: challenging another person in a local San Diego sports bar to a fight.
Disturbing the Peace by Making Loud and Unreasonable Noise
If you have been arrested for disturbing the peace by making loud and unreasonable noise, the state must prove that you maliciously and willfully disturbed another person by causing loud and unreasonable noise. You will be considered to act maliciously when you intentionally engage in behavior with the intent to harm or offend another person.
When is a person considered “disturbed” by loud and unreasonable noise? In order to disturb another person by causing loud and unreasonable noise, you must have caused the noise with one of the following intentions:
- Making the victim fearful of immediate violence, or
- Intending to disrupt lawful activities.
The noise that you cause must be emitted for some purpose other than ordinary communication.
Example: Standing in the hallway of a hotel at night while screaming obscenities at someone located inside of a room. The foul language is not used to communicate, but rather to be intimidating. The loud noise disrupts the peaceful stay for other guests in the hotel.
Disturbing the Peace by Using Offensive Words
If you are facing charges for disturbing the peace by using offensive words, the state will have to prove that your offensive words were uttered in public and “inherently likely to provoke an immediate violent reaction.” Your words will be considered to have this effect if:
- They reasonably likely to provoke another person to react violently, and
- When the words are uttered, there is a clear and present danger that the recipient will react violently.
In simpler terms, you can be convicted of disturbing the peace for uttering offensive words if you know that the recipient of your language is likely to be provoked and react violently. You do not necessarily have to intend for the recipient to react violently; you must simply know that it is likely.
Example: Uttering a racial, sexist, or otherwise offensive slur, knowing that the intended target will become upset and likely react violently.
Penalties for Disturbing the Peace
Disturbing the peace can be charged as an infraction or a misdemeanor. The specific charge will depend on the level of disruption caused by your actions, harm suffered by others in the area, and your history of criminal behavior.
Infraction: When charged as an infraction, disturbing the peace is punishable by a fine of $250.
Misdemeanor: When charged as a misdemeanor, disturbing the peace is punishable by up to 90 days in a San Diego County jail and/or $400 in criminal fines.
Penalties for disturbing the peace will be aggravated when the conduct takes place on school grounds and/or you have at least one prior conviction for the offense.
Defenses to Disturbing the Peace
While a conviction for a relatively minor misdemeanor may not seem like the end of the world, it will still result in a criminal record. Simply having a criminal record will change your life forever. You will find that it is difficult to find a good job, secure safe housing, and maintain professional licenses. You can avoid these penalties and consequences by presenting a strong legal defense. The following defenses may be helpful in your San Diego case for disturbing the peace:
- The actions were not willful
- You did not act with malice
- Lack of intent to provoke violence
- The conduct did not take place in public
- Mistaken identity, and
- False accusation.
Fighting Criminal Charges for Disturbing the Peace in San Diego
If you have been arrested for disturbing the peace it is important to speak with an experienced San Diego criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Call the Law Office of Vikas Bajaj, APC to find out how we can help to protect your future. Our skilled legal team has more than 16 years of experience successfully defending clients just like you against a wide range of criminal matters. We understand that any criminal conviction will change the course of your life forever and will do everything in our power to limit the consequences of your arrest. Early intervention into your criminal case is important, so do not hesitate to call us today.