Do You Need a Rhode Island Disorderly Conduct Attorney?
A charge of disorderly conduct can cause you to experience an emotional rollercoaster. Perhaps you acknowledge you may have made a mistake, or maybe a social situation escalated in a way that you did not intend. You might believe you acted within your rights, but now you are shocked and concerned that you may be facing a criminal charge and a criminal record that threatens your future. An experienced Rhode Island disorderly conduct attorney can provide guidance, help protect your rights, and develop a strong defense strategy.
Disorderly conduct is a common but serious charge in Rhode Island. It’s often used as a catch-all charge for behaviors that seem illegal or disruptive. This charge often accompanies an assault charge, further complicating your legal situation.
Being charged with a crime can be a frightening experience, especially if you have no prior criminal history. The uncertainty of the outcome and potential penalties can create significant fear and anxiety. Many people feel angry or frustrated about their situation when facing disorderly conduct charges, particularly if they believe the charges are unjust. A disorderly conduct charge can also bring feelings of embarrassment and shame, especially given the public nature of the offense. We understand your frustration, as we have helped many people in circumstances like yours.
Defend Against Or Prevent Charges by Promptly Calling a Seasoned Rhode Island Disorderly Conduct Lawyer
What you need in this situation is a clear assessment of your situation and guidance from an experienced attorney for disorderly conduct charges. It is crucial that you promptly contact an experienced criminal defense attorney for disorderly conduct without delay, especially if you haven’t been formally charged yet. There may be strategic steps available to minimize the negative effects of a current or pending disorderly conduct charge. Call me today to discuss your case.
Types and Examples of Disorderly Conduct in Rhode Island
There are different types and examples of disorderly conduct under Rhode Island law, as outlined in R.I.G.L. §11-45-1:
- Engaging in Fighting: This includes any form of physical confrontation or violence.
- Making Loud and Unreasonable Noise: This pertains to creating noise that is excessively loud and unreasonable, causing disturbance to others.
- Using Offensive Language to Provoke: This involves using abusive, offensive, or obscene language or gestures with the intent to provoke violent retaliation.
- Disrupting Public Meetings: This refers to intentionally disrupting any lawful assembly or meeting without authority.
- Disrupting Religious Meetings: This includes intentionally causing a disturbance during religious ceremonies or services.
- Obstructing Employment/Education: This means intentionally obstructing another person’s lawful occupation, business, or educational opportunity by acts of physical interference.
- Overcrowding an Assembly: This involves intentionally causing a condition of overcrowding in a place of public assembly in reckless disregard for the safety of others.
- Looking for a Lascivious Purpose in a Private Area: This could involve entering another person’s property and looking through a window or looking upon a private area such as a locker room, restroom, changing room, bedroom, or other area where a person would have a reasonable expectation of privacy — regardless of property rights for that area.
Domestic Disorderly Conduct
Disorderly conduct can also be charged as a domestic violence crime pursuant to R.I.G.L. 12-29-5, and this is called domestic disorderly conduct. This applies when the accused and the victim are family members, cohabitants, have a child in common, or are in a substantive dating or engagement relationship. Coordinate with an experienced criminal defense lawyer if you have been charged with criminal offenses involving a household member, as allegations or convictions involving domestic violence can have additional serious implications.
Disorderly Conduct on Own Property
In Rhode Island, one can be charged with disorderly conduct even on their own property if their actions meet the criteria set out in the disorderly conduct law and they cause a public disturbance. The circumstances don’t have to involve violent behavior. For example, making loud and unreasonable noise in your own private residence or on your property that disturbs neighbors could lead to a disorderly conduct charge.
Contact the Law Offices of Thomas G. Briody today if you have been involved in any of the above situations in Rhode Island. We will discuss your case and identify your next steps.
Legal Elements of Disorderly Conduct
According to § 11-45-1, a person commits disorderly conduct if he or she intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly performs any of the behaviors that qualify as disorderly conduct under § 11-45-1. The implications of these qualifying elements for a criminal defense case in Rhode Island are significant. If any of these three qualifying elements are missing or in question, it could potentially weaken the prosecution’s case. Also, consider that the range of behaviors listed is very wide, as in the case of “violent or tumultuous behavior” — which could involve actions harming others or may simply be a demonstration of exuberance that others might perceive as threatening.
Disorderly conduct cases involving obstruction of transportation or gatherings may not have sufficient evidence that they should not be classified as lawful demonstrations. Another party may have been motivated to call the police to prevent lawful picketing, as in the case of a labor dispute. Disorderly conduct laws in Rhode Island are not meant to prevent lawful labor dispute picketing. Depending on the circumstances, you may even have cause to suggest the other party in such an event interfered with your lawful meeting.
How Do The Subjective Circumstances of Your Charges Compare Relative to Rhode Island Disorderly Conduct Statute Terms?
Offensive words are often subjective, and they may not imply intent of a violent reaction. A police officer may have to act in the moment to keep the peace, and this can lead to charges of criminal offenses that do not stick. An experienced criminal defense lawyer can ascertain the strength of the charges against you in order to avoid severe penalties and a criminal record.
If it can be shown that the defendant did not act “intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly” under the circumstances or that their actions did not meet the criteria outlined above, a defense attorney might be able to argue for dismissal or reduction of the charges. Contact our law offices to discuss your details with a seasoned Rhode Island disorderly conduct lawyer.
Potential Consequences for a Disorderly Conduct Conviction in Rhode Island
In general terms, disorderly conduct is considered a misdemeanor criminal offense in Rhode Island. A person found guilty faces penalties for this offense that can include up to a maximum of six months in jail, a fine of up to $500, or both.
However, it’s important to note that there are variations in the potential penalties based on the type of disorderly conduct charge and the behavior that led to it. For instance, indecent exposure disorderly conduct can carry other penalties that are steeper, including a maximum sentence of up to one year in prison and a fine of up to $1,000.
When disorderly conduct is classified as a “petty misdemeanor,” the maximum penalty under Rhode Island criminal law is six months in jail. In cases of domestic disorderly conduct, the same maximum penalty applies. Additional consequences may include community service, court costs, and having a criminal conviction on your record. In certain circumstances, such as using profanity, the penalties may be less severe, with fines not exceeding $100.
The type of misdemeanor criminal offense you face will have an important bearing on your case. It’s essential to consult with an experienced disorderly conduct lawyer who can provide guidance based on the specifics of your case — and potentially mitigate these consequences.
Defenses to Disorderly Conduct Charges in Rhode Island
There are several potential defense strategies for disorderly conduct charges. As disorderly conduct charges can stem from various types of disorderly behavior, each may require a different defense approach.
- Lack of Intent: Disorderly conduct generally requires an intent to cause public inconvenience, annoyance, or alarm — or recklessly create a risk thereof. If you can show that you didn’t have the required intent, it could serve as a defense.
- Freedom of Speech: In some cases, what is perceived as disorderly conduct might be a form of protected speech. The First Amendment protects the majority of forms of public speech, and this defense could apply if your alleged disorderly conduct involved public speech.
- Self-Defense or Defense of Others: If your alleged disorderly conduct was a response to a threat to yourself or someone else, you might be able to use a self-defense or defense of others strategy.
- Police Misconduct: Sometimes, police officers may overstep their boundaries during an arrest. If your rights were violated during the arrest, this could influence your case.
- Insufficient Evidence: The prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you committed disorderly conduct. If there is insufficient evidence, this could serve as a defense.
Before committing to a defense strategy, it is important to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney who can help determine the right strategy for your specific case.
Dismissal of Disorderly Conduct Charges
There are several strategies a criminal defense attorney can employ to help clients seek dismissal of disorderly conduct charges:
- Challenging the Evidence: One common approach is to challenge the validity and reliability of the evidence presented by the prosecution. This could include questioning the credibility of witnesses or disputing the manner in which evidence was collected.
- Asserting Constitutional Violations: If law enforcement violated the defendant’s constitutional rights during the arrest, such as failing to read Miranda rights or conducting an illegal search, the case could be dismissed.
- Negotiating a Plea Bargain: In some cases, we may be able to negotiate a plea deal with the prosecutor. This typically involves pleading guilty to a lesser charge in return for a more lenient sentence.
Preventing Charges Through Early Intervention
Involving a defense attorney as soon as possible can sometimes prevent charges from being filed in the first place. An attorney can communicate with law enforcement and the prosecutor’s office, present evidence that supports the client’s innocence, or argue that the prosecution’s evidence is insufficient to warrant charges.
Minimizing Negative Effects of a Rhode Island Disorderly Conduct Conviction
If you are convicted of disorderly conduct in Rhode Island, there may still be additional steps we can take to protect your future, depending on the details of your case:
- Expungement: If a client is convicted, we can later seek to have the conviction expunged from their record, provided they meet certain eligibility requirements.
- Diversion Programs: Some first-time offenders may be eligible for diversion programs that involve supervision and services instead of incarceration. These differ for misdemeanors and felonies. Upon successful completion, diversion programs can lead to the charges being dropped.
Contact The Law Offices of Thomas G. Briody in Providence, Rhode Island to Discuss Your Disorderly Conduct Case
Disorderly conduct charges in Rhode Island are very common. A Rhode Island disorderly conduct charge can arise from a wide range of alleged behaviors that may or may not have been intentional — or which you may not have known were illegal behaviors. You may not believe your actions constituted disruptive behavior that makes you deserving of a criminal record. Consequently, you may be shocked and angry in addition to your concern and anxiety over the life implications of a serious criminal charge and the legal processes ahead.
You may not agree with the charges, but it is important to shift into damage control mode to protect your interests. You need to promptly contact a knowledgeable disorderly conduct lawyer to calmly and effectively address this issue with informed decisions in defense of your future.
At The Law Offices of Thomas G. Briody, we are prepared to guide you in defense of your rights and your future. Do not delay in reaching out to an experienced criminal defense attorney, as there may be early opportunities to limit the negative effects of these allegations on your life.
Call (401) 751-5151 today to discuss your case and begin strategizing your next steps.
Law Offices of Thomas G. Briody — Aggressive, Compassionate Defense