When your behavior frightens or disturbs people or upsets quiet or good order through loud noise, fighting, or other antisocial behavior, you can be charged with disturbing the peace. In California, disturbing the peace is a misdemeanor that carries with it penalties ranging from a fine, a period of probation, and/or a brief period of incarceration.
A misdemeanor is a less serious criminal offense than a felony, but a misdemeanor conviction on your criminal record can still be a huge problem. Even a misdemeanor conviction for a seemingly harmless offense can make it more difficult for you to find a job, get quality housing, and/or obtain certain professional licenses.
This is why you should never take any criminal charge lightly. An experienced criminal defense lawyer will understand how important it is to keep your record free of even minor criminal offenses, can explain what options exist for your defense, and assist you in resolving your case without receiving a criminal conviction.
Call The Law Offices of Bryan R. Kazarian today at 855-918-4253 to discuss your case and to learn more about what we can do to help.
California Penal Code 415: Disturbing the Peace
There are a few different ways that you can be charged with disturbing the peace under CPC 415:
- Unlawfully fighting or challenging someone to a fight in a public place, CPC 415(1);
- Willfully or maliciously disturbing someone by engaging in unreasonably loud behavior and/or noise, CPC 415(2); or
- Using words and phrases of such an inflammatory or offensive nature that when used in a public place, they are likely to elicit an immediate violent response, CPC 415(3).
So, to convict you of disturbing the peace in California, the prosecutor must prove that you were in a public place and either:
- Unlawfully engage or challenged one to a fight
- Willing and maliciously engaged in unreasonably loud behavior to disturb someone; or
- Used offensive language likely to provoke an immediate violent reaction
If the prosecutor cannot prove either of the elements of the offense, as described above, beyond a reasonable doubt, you will be acquitted of the charge.
The Penalties For Disturbing the Peace in California
Disturbing the peace can be charged as a misdemeanor or an infraction in California. An infraction is not considered a crime and does not carry with it the possibility of incarceration or probation, but can result in a fine of up to $250.
If convicted of a misdemeanor for disturbing the peace, you can face up to 90 days in jail and be fined up to $400, or both. In addition, you will receive a misdemeanor conviction on your criminal record. However, the actual penalties you will receive if convicted will vary depending on the context in which the offense was committed.
Defending a Disturbing the Peace Charge in California
California’s definition of disturbing the peace is extremely vague. Because of this, the offense is often difficult for the prosecutor to prove, especially where there was a lack of willful intent and when freedom of speech is an issue.
Conversely, this means there may be several ways for your criminal defense attorney to defend the charge. Alternatively, your attorney can sometimes use pleading guilty to disturbing the peace as a bargaining chip when you have been charged with a more serious criminal offense.
For example, a defendant will often plead guilty to disturbing the peace as an infraction, in return for having the charge reduced from a more serious crime, such as simple assault, minor domestic battery, criminal threats, prostitution, solicitation, or lewd conduct.
This is why it is very important to discuss your case with an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. The sooner you get an attorney working on your behalf, the greater the chance of having the charges dismissed or reduced down to an infraction rather than a criminal offense, thereby avoiding a criminal conviction.
Contact The Law Offices of Bryan R. Kazarian: California Criminal Defense Attorneys
If you or someone you care about has been charged with disturbing the peace in Orange, Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino, or San Diego Counties of Southern California, our skillful and experienced California criminal defense lawyers can devise a defense strategy that will enable you to avoid a conviction or, at the very least, minimize the penalties you will receive if convicted. Call The Law Offices of Bryan R. Kazarian today at 855-918-4253 or contact us here online to request a free consultation.