When Does Rowdy Conduct Cross To Criminal Conduct?

Published 06/24/16 by Admin

As adults, almost all of us have been in situations where things can get a little out of hand. Maybe it was at a party and somebody had a little too much to drink. Or maybe a sporting event where opinions and team spirit went a little over the top. Whatever the scenario, it is understandable that people are going to want to have fun, and sometimes that fun can lead to people getting rowdy and carried away with their actions. However, it is important to understand when our rowdy actions can cross the line into the territory of disorderly conduct, and what you should do to try to avoid getting a citation.

Before continuing, it is important that you as the reader understand that this blog should not be construed as legal advice, but rather is a basic summary of when our actions and conduct becomes disorderly conduct in the eyes of the law. For actual legal advice, a person who is facing a disorderly conduct charge should consult an attorney for accurate and up-to-date legal advice.

It is important to understand that there are two different categories of disorderly conduct. The standard category of disorderly conduct is a minor misdemeanor, and it carries no jail time. It does however earn the charged person a citation and a maximum fine of $150. The second category of disorderly conduct requires specific circumstances, but if they are satisfied, the person charged is looking at fourth-degree misdemeanor. In the state of Ohio, a fourth-degree misdemeanor can result in a maximum of 30 days in jail and a maximum fine of $250.

Now, the real question: What do I have to do before my actions result in a disorderly conduct citation? Disorderly conduct is covered under § 2917.11 of the Ohio Revised Code. In that section, the law lays out a list of five things that a person could do that may “recklessly cause inconvenience, annoyance, or alarm to another”. Below is a summary of those five things:

  • Fighting, threatening a person/property, or violent behavior.
  • Communicating unreasonably or offensively towards another person. Communication includes, noises, gestures, and speaking.
  • Insulting, challenging or taunting another person in a way that may cause a violent response from that person.
  • Unlawfully or unreasonably preventing a person from being able to move to, within, or from a public place. This includes sidewalks, streets, public property and even private property.
  • Unlawfully or unreasonably creating a condition that is physically offensive or poses a risk of harm to another person or property.

The list above are all ways that a person can earn themselves a disorderly conduct citation if they are found to violate even just one. Those five though are not the only ways. When alcohol is involved, there are other ways that a person may receive a disorderly conduct citation. The list of things below are ways that a person who is “voluntarily intoxicated” can find themselves facing a disorderly conduct charge:

  • Engaging in conduct that is offensive, annoying or inconvenient to others. This is conduct that the offender would have reasonably known was offensive, annoying or inconvenient if they were not intoxicated. Also, the offender has to be in public or in the presence of two or more people.
  • Engaging in conduct that creates a risk of physical harm to themselves, another or property.

The seven actions listed above are all ways that a person’s rowdy behavior can cross into the territory of disorderly conduct. For the seven actions listed above, violation of one or more of these will typically result in just a disorderly conduct citation under the category of a minor misdemeanor.

For that minor misdemeanor to become a fourth-degree misdemeanor where possible jail time is involved, a person would typically have to continue to engage in the disorderly conduct after they have been warned, be in the vicinity of a school, or committed the offensive conduct in the presence of an officer, firefighter, rescuer, medical person, or emergency facility person who may be trying to perform their job. The different scenarios where the charge would be upgraded vary, but these are the most typical ways that a person’s disorderly conduct charge may become more severe.

Regardless of the situation you may find yourself in, you should always be aware of where you are, what you are doing, and who is watching.