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Prince William County Disorderly Conduct Lawyer

Under the Virginia criminal code, disorderly conduct means behavior that is meant to—or recklessly creates a risk of—inciting people to violence in public places, or disrupting official functions of local government or commercial entities. The state code allows localities to enact their own ordinances punishing disorderly conduct, and Prince William County has done so in a way that broadens the types of behavior that constitute this behavior.

If you have been charged with disturbing the peace, you might benefit from contacting an experienced attorney to help guide you through the legal process. Because this offense can include many different reckless behaviors, it is important to speak with a Prince William County disorderly conduct lawyer to explain the charges and possible consequences you may be facing.

The Scope of Disorderly Conduct

The charge of disorderly conduct was legislatively created to essentially function as a catch-all crime for situations where someone is causing notable disorder but is not technically violating—or at least not fully violating—other parts of the criminal code. As such, it is meant to be wide-ranging and adaptable to all sorts of situations and behaviors.

As a result, law enforcement can charge an individual with disorderly conduct even if their actions are not what most people would consider to be “disorderly.” Charges that operate similarly to this offense—and may even be charged simultaneously with it—are public intoxication, using profane language in public, assault and battery, resisting arrest, violating a no-contact protective order, indecent exposure, destruction of property, and loitering.

Furthermore, if someone’s behavior results in the shutdown of an entire roadway, commercial venue, school, or government office in a way that causes substantial financial inconvenience or threats to public safety, this would be classified as a major disturbance and can also result in a disorderly conduct offense. As such, anyone accused of disturbing the peace should work with a Prince William County lawyer who has experience with disorderly conduct charges because there is a chance that they can work out a dismissal solution that may be unavailable if a person is representing themselves.

Definition of a Public Area

Under the state code, a public place means any location, building, or transportation system to which the public has, or is permitted to have access to. These places could include:

  • Restaurants
  • Convenience stores
  • Hotel dining areas
  • Lobbies
  • Parks—including amusement parks
  • Public resorts
  • Highways
  • Streets
  • Sidewalks

It is important to note that this broad definition includes locations that are technically private property but are still open, accessible, or visible to the public. A knowledgeable disorderly conduct attorney in Prince William County could help to explain these nuances to anyone facing charges.

Penalties for Disturbing the Peace

Under both the state and local code, disorderly conduct is a Class 1 misdemeanor. As such, it is punishable by up to 12 months in jail, and up to a $2,500 fine.

It may also result in a person being banned from a particular place for several years after a case is over. A skilled Prince William County disorderly conduct attorney could review a defendant’s case to determine the punishments they may face based on their case and then use this information to build a defense.

Deferred Prosecution Agreements

A deferred prosecution agreement (DPA) is more commonly known as a “general continuance,” and applies to a situation where a particular prosecutor has privately agreed to defer a trial on a charge for a six to twelve-month period. During this time, the court may place the defendant under probationary-like conditions such as taking classes, submitting to drug tests, or completing community service. If the accused completes these conditions on time, and the defendant has not picked up any new charges, the prosecution may drop the case.

A similar arrangement known as a deferred adjudication follows the same procedure except the agreement is between the defense and the judge, rather than the defense and the prosecution. A well-versed attorney lawyer in Prince William County may be able to assist a defendant in obtaining one of these alternative sentencing options depending on the specifics of their disorderly conduct case.

Speak with a Prince William County Disorderly Conduct Attorney

Because disorderly conduct can include a wide variety of behaviors, it can be difficult to understand the legal process if you do not have prior knowledge on the subject. As a result, if you have been charged with disturbing public order, you should reach out to a Prince William County disorderly conduct lawyer to help you understand your charges and guidance in building a defense. Contact our office for a consultation on your case.

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