A commonly asked question is what is Disorderly Conduct in Arizona. Indeed, Disorderly conduct is an Arizona criminal offense with a broad definition. Specifically, it includes any behavior disrupting a community’s or community member’s peace and order. This can include a wide range of actions anywhere from yelling and screaming in public to brandishing or displaying a weapon in the presence of others. Under Arizona Revised Statute 13-2904, most legal theories of disorderly conduct are misdemeanor offenses that carry penalties including fines, probation, and even jail time. However, under A.R.S. 13-2904(A)(6), Disorderly Conduct is a dangerous felony offense carrying mandatory prison. Moreover, Disorderly Conduct is a “domestic violence eligible” offense. Simply put, any person committing disorderly conduct in the presence of family members is eligible for the domestic violence designation.
Disorderly Conduct in Arizona Defined
Disorderly conduct can occur in a variety of settings, including on the street, in a public place, or even in a private residence. A.R.S. 13-2904 defines disorderly conduct as engaging in any of the following actions:
- Engaging in fighting, violent behavior or tumultuous conduct;
- Making unreasonable noise (i.e., playing music too loudly);
- Using abusive or offensive language or gestures to provoke an immediate physical response; (i.e., insulting a person or swearing at the; flipping the middle finger);
- Preventing the free passage of others on a public street or highway by congregating, loitering, or blocking passage;
- Recklessly handling, displaying, or discharging a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument (as discussed in further detail below, this is a dangerous felony carrying mandatory prison); or
- Making any protracted commotion, utterance or display with the intent to prevent the transaction of the business of a lawful meeting, gathering, or procession.
Disorderly Conduct is fairly simple to understand. Generally, it is a crime for one to disturb the peace of others. This conduct includes fighting. Indeed, disorderly conduct occurs when two people engage in mutual combat. However, the situation is different if one person threatens or uses physical force against another and the other person responds in self-defense. In this “fighting” scenario, the aggressor is committing Disorderly Conduct and Assault. And the other party is acting with justification in self-defense.
Disorderly Conduct also occurs when a person is causing a disturbance to anyone at any place. As mentioned above and discussed below, Disorderly Conduct is a “domestic eligible” offense. As such, disturbing a family member’s peace is a domestic violence offense in Arizona. Disorderly Conduct is a misdemeanor, with the exception of Disorderly Conduct with a Weapon.
Disorderly Conduct With a Weapon in Arizona
One particularly serious form of Disorderly Conduct in Arizona is Disorderly Conduct with a Weapon. A.R.S. 13-2904(A)(6) defines this offense. Indeed, one commits Disorderly Conduct with a Weapon by recklessly handling, displaying, or discharging a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument. This offense is a Dangerous Class 6 Felony and carries mandatory prison if convicted at trial. The State treats this offense different than other theories of Disorderly Conduct. The reason is because this offense is particularly serious due to it involving a weapon.
Disorderly Conduct with a Weapon is a lesser-included offense of Aggravated Assault (use of deadly weapon or dangerous instrument). This means one cannot commit Aggravated Assault with a Weapon without inherently committing Disorderly Conduct with a Weapon. Although the two offenses are different. One commits Disorderly Conduct with a Weapon by shooting rounds from a firearm into the sky. This is not an Aggravated Assault with a Weapon. However, one commits Aggravated Assault with a Weapon by pointing a firearm at another. Or, by shooting at someone. Indeed, one commits Disorderly Conduct with a Weapon when committing an Aggravated Assault with a weapon. But one does not necessarily commit an Aggravated Assault while committing a Disorderly Conduct with a Weapon.
Indeed, Felony Disorderly Conduct is a serious offense as it involves a weapon or dangerous instrument. The typical situation involves reckless (or intentional) handling or discharge of a firearm, as mentioned above. A typical “sister” charge with Felony Disorderly Conduct is Unlawful Discharge of a Firearm per A.R.S. 13-3107, also a Class 6 Dangerous Felony. Obviously, it is important for all to exercise caution when handling a firearm.
Disorderly Conduct By Domestic Violence in Arizona
Disorderly Conduct is a domestic violence eligible offense in Arizona. Indeed, Disorderly Conduct by Domestic Violence is a serious criminal offense that can result in significant legal and personal consequences. The domestic violence designation occurs when a person engages in disorderly conduct with a family or household member, such as a spouse, parent, child, or roommate. Specifically, a legally required relationship must be present to charge an offense by domestic violence.
It is important to note that the potential penalties may be more severe when Disorderly Conduct has the Domestic Violence designation. This is because the State of Arizona takes domestic violence very seriously and has implemented strict laws to protect victims of domestic violence. Indeed, A.R.S. 13-3601 imposes additional penalties on a person convicted of a domestic violence designated offense. These additional penalties include mandatory domestic violence counseling.
In addition to the potential legal penalties, a domestic violence conviction can also have significant personal and professional consequences. Specifically, a conviction for domestic violence can make it difficult to find employment, secure housing, and maintain relationships with family and friends.
Consequences of a Conviction
The potential penalties for a Disorderly Conduct conviction are severe. The offense (without a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument) is classified as a class 1 misdemeanor, which is the most serious misdemeanor offense in Arizona. This means that a conviction for disorderly conduct by domestic violence carries the following consequences:
- Up to 6 Months Jail
- Maximum $2500 Fine
- Not to exceed 3 Years Probation
However, Disorderly Conduct with a Weapon or Dangerous Instrument is a Class 6 Dangerous Felony. Indeed, a Dangerous Felony under A.R.S. 13-705 calls for mandatory prison if convicted. Specifically, a person faces a mandatory range of 1.5 to 3 years in prison, with a presumptive sentence of 2.25 years.
In addition to the legal penalties, a conviction for Disorderly Conduct by Domestic Violence can also have significant personal and professional consequences. A domestic violence conviction can make it difficult to find employment, secure housing, and maintain relationships with family and friends. In some cases, a domestic violence conviction can also result in the loss of certain civil rights, such as the right to own a firearm (as will a Felony conviction).
There are potential defenses available in disorderly conduct cases. First, a potential issue will arise if the State has difficulties identifying a defendant. A possible defense is for the defendant to allege someone else committed the offense. This is difficult to do if there are credible witnesses identifying a defendant, or if a defendant makes admissions. Indeed, non-credible witnesses provide opening for this defense.
Second, the State must show that a defendant either (1) knowingly disturbed the victim’s peace or (2) the defendant intended to disturb the victim’s peace. Essentially, did a defendant knowingly or intentionally disturb a victim’s peace? Indeed, under the Disorderly Conduct theory concerning disturbing the peace, defenses may go to whether the defendant knowingly or intentionally acted. Specifically, did the defendant “know” his conduct disturbed the victim’s peace; or, did the defendant “intend” to disturb the victim’s peace?
Third, whether a defendant acted with reckless intent in a felony disorderly conduct offense is a potential defense. Indeed, A.R.S. 13-2904(A)(6) requires one to “recklessly” handle, display or discharge a firearm. As mentioned, a person engaging in this behavior is guilty of a Class 6 Dangerous felony. Reckless behavior occurs when a person is aware of a risk but consciously disregards the risk. Indeed, reckless behavior occurs if someone is angrily handling a firearm and it discharges.
Huss Law, PLLC Arizona’s Best Disorderly Conduct Attorney
Disorderly conduct may lead to serious consequences in Arizona. As discussed, it ranges between a Class 1 Misdemeanor up to a Class 6 felony if it involves a firearm. And the consequences range from probation with no jail up to prison upon conviction for a dangerous felony. Moreover, a Disorderly Conduct conviction with a domestic violence designation carries additional consequences. In addition, a Disorderly Conduct conviction may impact a person’s ability to obtain employment, housing or professional degrees and licenses. Due to the significant consequences surrounding a conviction, it is important to consult with and retain an experienced Arizona Disorderly Conduct attorney.
Huss Law, PLLC is Arizona’s Best Disorderly Conduct Attorney. Mr. Huss has over 20 years experience with the Arizona criminal justice system and prosecutions. Indeed, Mr. Huss spent nearly 13 years as an Arizona Felony prosecutor handling crimes of every nature. Specifically, Mr. Huss has handled countless Disorderly Conduct cases as both a prosecutor and criminal defense attorney. He has also been lead counsel in several Aggravated Assault (Deadly Weapon/Dangerous Instrument) cases and jury trials where Disorderly Conduct is a lesser-included offense. Mr. Huss’ decade-plus experience as an Arizona felony prosecutor provides him significant insight into the criminal justice process. Anybody charged or under investigation for Disorderly Conduct in Arizona should contact Huss Law immediately for a free consultation!Categories:: Criminal Defense, Domestic Violence, General