When most people think of disorderly conduct, they think of some drunk flailing about, swearing on the sidewalk. Disorderly conduct is the kind of catch-all crime that enables the police to arrest you if they can’t exactly pin you down on some other charge.
But disorderly conduct can also mean peeping in windows, phoning in a false bomb threat or police report and can range in severity from a slap on the wrist to several years in prison.
The most common type of disorderly conduct is alarming or disturbing another or provoking a breach of the peace. (See: 720 Illinois Compiled Statutes 5/26-1.) A recent example is a November, 2012 brawl between several high school students in a Skokie park. (See: Chicago Tribune: 29 Students Involved in Skokie Brawl. Disorderly conduct may also include screaming or swearing loudly in public or throwing things in a store. This type of disorderly conduct is a Class C Misdemeanor, punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a $1,500 fine. If you are peeping into windows for an unlawful or lewd purpose, you can be charged with a Class A Misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and a $2,500 fine.
Disorderly conduct becomes a felony when you make threats or false reports. If you call in a false fire alarm, request for ambulance, crime report, 911 alert or false child abuse claim, you can be charged with a Class 4 Felony, punishable by 1 to 3 years in prison. Threats of violence against school or school personnel is also a Class 4 Felony. A false bomb threat escalates to a Class 3 Felony, punishable by 2 to 5 years.
Besides potential jail and fines, the court must order at least 30 hours of community service. If your offense involved a bomb threat, you can be ordered to pay back the costs of any emergency response.
If you are charged with disorderly conduct, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. As with most other crimes, the state must prove you guilty of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt. The disorderly conduct law requires that you acted knowingly. Maybe you really believed someone was in trouble when you phoned in that 911 report or looked through their window.
Even if the evidence is overwhelmingly against you, an experienced attorney who is respected at the courthouse may be able to negotiate a better plea agreement than you could on your own. If you have questions about this or another related criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email email@example.com.
(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)