When you think of disorderly conduct, you may think of loud noises, being drunk in public, or compromising the safety of others. In Maryland, several statutes govern disorderly conduct and cover a variety of actions. The laws are vaguely worded, which means that the consequences of disorderly conduct charges can vary between judges.

Anyone can be charged with disorderly conduct for causing a disturbance, whether you’re arrested while walking down the street or driving your vehicle. Disorderly conduct is a minor offense, but you will benefit from working with a disorderly conduct lawyer to help you avoid costly fines and a criminal record that can impact your future for years to come.

Issues with Maryland’s Disorderly Conduct Laws

State laws that govern disorderly conduct often refer to “disturbing the peace” and can be interpreted in several different ways by different police officers, prosecutors, and judges. The language the law uses to define the offense is ambiguous, so sentencing for convictions can vary. Repeat disorderly conduct convictions can impact your life for years, especially if the offenses involved alcohol use. Some of the following consequences can occur if you’re convicted of disorderly conduct in Baltimore or surrounding areas:

  • You could have your driver’s license suspended
  • You could be ordered to attend alcohol treatment
  • You could be ordered to attend anger management
  • You could be evicted from your residence

Although disorderly conduct is a minor offense, the ramifications are severe. A disorderly conduct lawyer in Maryland can help you put the charge behind you.

Understanding Disorderly Conduct in Maryland

The statutes that cover disorderly conduct are Statute 10-201(c)(1) to 10-204(c). They are all minor charges. These laws define which places enforce disorderly conduct rules.

  • Restaurants, taverns, retail businesses, shopping centers, movie theaters
  • Buildings used by the general public
  • Parking lots
  • Public sidewalks and streets
  • Parks and other public recreation spaces
  • Educational facilities
  • Religious institutions
  • Public transportation (trains, buses, subways)

Statute 10-201 prohibits people from obstructing the passage of another person in public spaces or acting in a way that violates public peace rights. There are also area-specific rules that, if violated, can lead to a charge of disorderly conduct. For example, in Worcester County, you can be charged with disorderly conduct if you start a bonfire between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. on public property.

Penalties for Disorderly Conduct

If you’re convicted of disorderly conduct, you can face a fine of $500 and a sentence of up to 60 days in jail.

Disorderly Conduct and Disturbing the Peace

Attorneys who fight disorderly conduct charges also regularly defend clients charged with disturbing the peace. Disturbing the peace is similar to disorderly conduct, but may be charged in specific situations instead of disorderly conduct. For example, if you enter another’s property and make unreasonably loud sounds or act disruptive, you may face a charge of disturbing the peace.

Statute 10-201(c)(4) outlines disturbing the peace, which is punishable by a fine of up to $500 and a sentence of up to 60 days in jail.

How Can I Be Charged with Disorderly Conduct in a Vehicle?

Almost anything that Maryland law considers disorderly conduct can be done in a car. Disturbing the peace is a crime that involves unruly public behavior. Actions like the following can all be conducted in the privacy of one’s car and still disturb the peace:

  • Shouting profanities out of a car window in front of a person’s home
  • Intentionally playing loud music during the night that continues after a warning
  • Fighting or challenging someone to fight in a public place
  • Using offensive words to incite violence
  • Bullying a student on or near school grounds
  • Loitering

Additionally, it’s a more serious crime to interfere with an emergency vehicle’s ability to travel to or from a medical facility. If you’re in your car and block an ambulance, you can face a fine of up to $1,000 and up to 90 days in jail if you’re convicted.

A Maryland disorderly conduct lawyer can help you stay out of jail, avoid steep fines, and preserve your driver’s license.

Protect Your Rights with Legal Representation

Attorney Hillel Traub is a criminal lawyer who fights traffic offenses throughout Maryland. He challenges charges of minor and serious traffic crimes to help the accused preserve their lives and reputations. Hillel has experience having worked as an Assistant Attorney General for the Maryland MVA and can provide guidance on driver’s license matters. When you need to protect your driver’s license and avoid or lessen the charges against you, call Hillel for a free consultation at (410) 580-1100 or complete our contact form.

 

 

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