Arrested in Massachusetts for Disorderly Conduct or Disturbing the Peace?

Under Massachusetts law, if you cause a disturbance which creates a public hazard, and serves no legitimate purpose, you can be charged with a disorderly person offense, also known as disorderly conduct.

A “disorderly person” is defined as one who:

  • with the purpose to cause public inconvenience, annoyance or alarm, or
  • recklessly creates a risk thereof
  • engages in fighting or threatening, violent or tumultuous behavior, or
  • creates a hazard or physically offensive condition by any act which serves no legitimate purpose.

If you are convicted of disorderly conduct, it is punishable by up to 6 months in jail. Generally speaking, this isn’t going to happen. You aren’t really at risk of being sentenced to jail time for disorderly conduct without some serious extenuating circumstances.

Disturbing the peace also falls under Chapter 272, with similar penalties. Some Massachusetts towns also have specific ordinances relating to disturbing the peace.

Disorderly Conduct Legal Defense Strategies

A disorderly conduct arrest is usually a discretionary decision by a police officer. If we can show that the officer may have been mistaken and overestimated any potential disorder created, we can get the case dismissed. The prosecution must establish beyond a reasonable doubt that your action created a dangerous situation and served no legitimate purpose.

Fist ShakingBeing angry and yelling at someone, even if that person is a police officer, is not sufficient cause to sustain a disorderly conduct charge. You are absolutely permitted to express yourself and your first amendment rights to free speech.

The simple fact is that you are probably more likely to be arrested for a disorderly conduct offense if you personally annoy a police officer. But that doesn’t mean that you are guilty by any means.

Please contact me for details and help on your specific case if you’ve been arrested for disorderly conduct in Massachusetts.

I am in different criminal courts across the state every day, defending my clients rights and freedom. If you need someone on your side against the legal system, call me and I’ll offer my experience and advice to you, with no obligation.

MGL CHAPTER 272. Mass General Laws, excerpt.

  Section 53. Common night walkers, common street walkers, both male and female, common railers and brawlers, persons who with offensive and disorderly acts or language accost or annoy persons of the opposite sex, lewd, wanton and lascivious persons in speech or behavior, idle and disorderly persons, disturbers of the peace, keepers of noisy and disorderly houses, and persons guilty of indecent exposure may be punished by imprisonment in a jail or house of correction for not more than six months, or by a fine of not more than two hundred dollars, or by both such fine and imprisonment.

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    • Russell J. Matson

      Founding Attorney

    Please call us today for a free consultation on any criminal charge in Massachusetts. I will take the time to talk to you about your exact circumstances, what you can expect could happen to you, and how I can help protect and defend your legal rights and your freedom in court.