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Disorderly Conduct Charges in Arizona

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Disorderly Conduct Charges in Arizona

In Arizona, one of the most commonly charged criminal offenses is disorderly conduct. You can be charged with this crime in a wide variety of circumstances. Actions that can be considered to be disorderly conduct include such things as making an unreasonably loud noise, disrupting a business, causing a commotion, recklessly handling a gun, fighting, and other forms of disruptive behavior.

While most types of disorderly conduct are misdemeanors, you could face a felony if you are charged with recklessly displaying or handling a gun.

Regardless of whether you are facing a misdemeanor or felony disorderly conduct offense, talk to an experienced criminal defense lawyer at Colburn Hintze Maletta.

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Disorderly Conduct Charges

What is Disorderly Conduct in Arizona?

The disorderly conduct statute is found at ARS 13-2904. Under this law, you can be charged with disorderly conduct if you do any of the following with the intent to disturb a person, family, or neighborhood or know that your actions will likely disturb the peace:

  • Fighting, violence, or other types of seriously disruptive conduct
  • Making unreasonable noise
  • Using offensive gestures or language to another person in a way that is likely to provoke retaliation
  • Making a prolonged commotion, speech, or display to disrupt a lawful procession, business, meeting, or gathering
  • Refusing to leave after a lawful order to disperse from the scene of an emergency, fire, or another hazard
  • Recklessly handling or displaying a firearm or another deadly weapon or dangerous instrument

This statute is very broad, and many different types of conduct can be charged under it.

Penalties for Disorderly Conduct in Arizona

Other than recklessly handling or displaying a deadly weapon, which is a class 6 felony, other types of disorderly conduct are class 1 misdemeanors. A class 1 misdemeanor is the most serious type of misdemeanor offense in Arizona.

If you are convicted of class 1 misdemeanor disorderly conduct, you will face the following potential penalties:

  • Jail up to a maximum of 6 months
  • Up to a $2,500 fine
  • Other surcharges
  • Probation for up to 3 years

 If you are convicted of a class 6 felony for recklessly displaying a deadly weapon, you will face the following penalties for a first offense:

  • Prison from 0.33 years up to 2 years with a presumptive sentence of 1 year
  • Fine of up to $150,000
  • Might be probation-eligible, depending on your criminal record

 If you are convicted of a class 6 felony and have one prior felony conviction on your record, you will face the following penalties:

  • 9 months up to 2.75 years in prison
  • Fine of up to $150,000

 If you are convicted of a class 6 felony and have two prior felony convictions on your record, you will face the following penalties:

  • Prison from 2.25 years up to 5.75 years
  • Fine of up to $150,000

If you are convicted of a class 6 felony for recklessly displaying a deadly weapon and the prosecutor filed a dangerous offense allegation, you will face the following penalties for a class 6 dangerous felony:

  • Prison from 1.5 years up to 3 years with a presumptive sentence of 2.25 years
  • Fine of up to $150,000


The amount of prison time can increase up to 6 years depending on how many prior felony convictions you have on your record.

Common Scenarios in Which People Might Be Charged with Disorderly Conduct

Police charge people with disorderly conduct in various circumstances. Many people are charged when they get into arguments and someone else calls the police. In most cases, these are situations that do not require police involvement. However, the police are likely to make an arrest when they are called out.

People who have been out drinking sometimes cause disturbances in public after leaving bars or nightclubs. Others might be charged when they repeatedly rev their engines in their neighborhoods or play music too loud outside.

In some cases, people who are the victims of others will be charged with disorderly conduct instead of the people who actually caused the disturbance. We often see people arrested for disorderly conduct after a bouncer kicks them out of a bar for seemingly harmless behavior. When the bouncers or security guards escalate the situation, it is common for voices to be raised or a physical altercation to ensue. In most cases, even if the bouncers are the aggressors, the police will often charge the bar patron with disorderly conduct. The officers may do little to investigate what happened and simply arrest everyone involved, leaving it to the prosecutors and courts to figure out later.

Unfortunately, however, this approach can cause innocent people to have to go through the court process, retain attorneys, and face the risk of a criminal conviction even though they were not at fault.

Determining actual physical control requires a case-by-case, factual analysis. An experienced DUI defense attorney may be able to get your DUI charges dismissed by arguing that you were using your vehicle as a temporary shelter or “safe harbor.”

Potential Defenses to Assault and Aggravated Assault Charges

If you have been charged with disorderly conduct, your attorney will carefully review the police reports and other evidence, including security or body camera footage. He or she will also interview you to learn exactly what happened and talk to any witnesses who might have seen what happened. Doing these things helps your attorney to develop a better understanding of what occurred and identify the best defense strategies to take.

In many cases involving an argument, there may be a lack of evidence or witnesses available to testify against the defendants. In a case involving an argument with a friend or family member

In many cases involving an argument, there may be a lack of evidence or witnesses available to testify against the defendants. In a case involving an argument with a friend or family member, the other person might not have any interest in pursuing the case and may not want you to have a criminal conviction on your record. A neighbor who called the police might not be interested in testifying since the situation resolved itself after the police were called.

If a witness or another involved person simply does not want to move forward, your attorney might talk to the prosecutor about dismissing the charge against you.

If a witness or another involved person simply does not want to move forward, your attorney might talk to the prosecutor about dismissing the charge against you. When there is simply no evidence about what happened, the prosecutor will likely be forced to dismiss the case since there would not be enough to secure a conviction.

Witnesses might also have moved away and become difficult to contact. For example, if you got into an argument at a bar, a witness might have moved away or might have been someone who was a tourist and unwilling to return to Arizona to testify in a disorderly conduct case.

A disorderly conduct charge can be very subjective. Your attorney will closely examine the circumstances to look for problems in the prosecutor’s case against you. Some of the defenses that might be available include the following:

  • Reasonable doubt
  • First Amendment free speech
  • Self-defense
  • Defense of others
  • You did not intend to disturb the peace or know that your actions could disturb the peace
  • You did not, in fact, disturb the peace and quiet of a person, family or neighborhood
  • Display of a firearm in defense

If you have several witnesses who can testify on your behalf, and there is little evidence the prosecutor can present, you might have enough reasonable doubt to avoid a conviction. Your attorney might negotiate with the prosecutor to dismiss your charges in this scenario.

If you are facing charges of offensive speech or gestures that are likely to provoke an immediate physical retaliation, you might be able to argue that your freedom of speech was protected under the First Amendment. Several cases in Arizona have found that cursing or cussing is not enough to constitute disorderly conduct when the other person did not feel provoked into immediate physical retaliation.

In a fight, you might be able to raise an affirmative defense based on self-defense or the defense of others. However, if you started the fight, you will not be able to assert these defenses.

The prosecutor must also show that you intended to disturb the peace or knew that your conduct would likely disturb others. If your attorney can show that you did not intend to disturb the peace, the prosecutor will not be able to secure a conviction. For example, if you were charged with disorderly conduct for playing loud music in your car, your attorney might be able to show that you did not intend to disturb others and only wanted to enjoy your music.

Finally, if you displayed a weapon because you reasonably believed that physical force would be necessary to prevent serious harm from someone else’s threatened use of physical force, you might be able to defend against the class 6 felony disorderly conduct charge.

Your disorderly conduct attorney can talk to you about whether this defense might be available to you under the circumstances of what happened in your case.

Why You Should Work with a Defense Attorney

Some people think that disorderly conduct charges are not a big deal. However, you could face time in jail or prison if you are convicted. You also do not want to have a conviction on your criminal record.

If you are convicted, it can cause problems for you when you apply for jobs, apply for leases, or apply for credit. An experienced attorney can help you to determine the best possible defenses to raise against your charges and work to secure a favorable resolution to your case.

In some cases where the prosecutor may have sufficient evidence to secure a conviction, an experienced attorney may be able to negotiate a diversion program that would prevent a criminal conviction on your record altogether.

Get Help from Colburn Hintze Maletta

Whenever you are charged with a crime, you should consider retaining an experienced lawyer. You are much likelier to receive a favorable plea agreement to a lesser charge or an outright dismissal of your charges when you are represented by a skilled defense lawyer.

Contact Colburn Hintze Maletta today to schedule a free consultation by calling us at 602-825-2500.

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