Disorderly Conduct Attorney in Georgia

Crowd of people marching at night. Hooded man protesting fist up in the air. Activism. Disorderly conduct.

As defined in the Georgia Criminal Code, the offense of disorderly conduct includes a wide range of conduct likely to create a disturbance or cause an unpeaceful situation. The statutory provisions are complex. If you face a disorderly conduct charge, representation by a criminal disorderly conduct lawyer is essential to avoid potential jail time and a fine, as well as the broader negative consequences of having a criminal conviction on your record.

Statutory Definition of Disorderly Conduct

Disorderly conduct is one of a number of offenses against public order defined in Section 16-11-39 of the Georgia Criminal Code. There are four different categories of conduct that may constitute the crime of disorderly conduct.

Section 16-11-39(a)(1) provides that a person who acts in a “a violent or tumultuous manner toward another person whereby such person is placed in reasonable fear of the safety of such person's life, limb, or health” commits the offense of disorderly conduct. Under this subsection, the conduct must qualify “violent or tumultuous” and the other person must reasonably fear for their safety.

The next provision, Section 16-11-39(a)(2), involves similar violent or tumultuous conduct toward another person that puts the property of the other person “in danger of being damaged or destroyed.”

Section 16-11-39(a)(3) contains the “fighting words” provision of the disorderly conduct law. Under the subsection, a person commits the crime of disorderly conduct if the person:

Without provocation, uses to or of another person in such other person's presence, opprobrious or abusive words which by their very utterance tend to incite to an immediate breach of the peace, that is to say, words which as a matter of common knowledge and under ordinary circumstances will, when used to or of another person in such other person's presence, naturally tend to provoke violent resentment, that is, words commonly called “fighting words.”

As is apparent from the complex language of the statute, a charge under this subsection raises many different issues relating to the conduct of the defendant and the effect of the defendant’s words on another person. The key statutory terms provisions include the use of “opprobrious or abusive words” known to incite a breach of the peace by provoking “violent resentment” of the other person.

Finally, Section 16-11-39(a)(4) provides that disorderly conduct occurs if a person acts without provocation and “uses obscene and vulgar or profane language in the presence of or by telephone to a person under the age of 14 years which threatens an immediate breach of the peace.”

A violation of any of the four sections of the disorderly conduct law is a misdemeanor that carries potential penalties of up to 12 months in jail, a fine of up to $1,000, or both.

Defending Against a Disorderly Conduct Charge

To prove the elements of a disorderly conduct charge, the prosecutor must demonstrate all elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt, regardless of which section of the law is involved in the charge. This requirement extends to proving the nature of the defendant’s conduct, as well as the state of mind of the person to whom the actions were directed. As such, the reasonable doubt rule provides many opportunities for an aggressive defense against a disorderly conduct charge.

For example, if the defendant was sufficiently provoked before engaging in the conduct, evidence of that fact could negate the provocation element that must be proven by the prosecutor. Similarly, for a charge under the “fighting words” provision, the defendant’s words must meet the requirement of inciting violent resentment to satisfy the provisions of the statute and of being opprobrious or abusive. Lastly, if the alleged victim had an unreasonable fear for their safety, rather than a fear that would be shared by most people, an essential element of the charge cannot be proven by the prosecution.

As in every criminal case, the exact defense to a disorderly conduct charge depends entirely on the evidence and the facts and circumstances that led to the charge. At Criminal & DUI Law of Georgia, we know how to investigate disorderly conduct charges and collect evidence to support a strong and vigorous defense, regardless of the circumstances that lead to the charge. If you face a disorderly conduct charge, you can count on us to develop an aggressive strategy that undermines the prosecutor’s case.

If you do not defend against disorderly conduct charges, you will have a criminal conviction on your public record. While it is a misdemeanor, the nature of the crime of disorderly conduct can affect an employer’s willingness to hire you, a landlord’s opinion of whether you are a suitable tenant, or other circumstances you encounter. Allowing a conviction to affect your life in this way is unnecessary, when you can assert a strong defense through your criminal defense lawyer.

Schedule a Consultation with a Georgia Disorderly Conduct Defense Attorney

If you face a disorderly conduct charge in Georgia, an aggressive defense strategy is essential. At The McCoy Law Firm, LLC, our extensive criminal defense experience includes handling numerous disorderly conduct cases involving many different types of situations. We review your circumstances, identify the best defenses and strategy for your case, and protect your rights throughout the criminal process. We handle every case with unparalleled confidentiality, professionalism, and integrity.

Based in Cartersville, we serve clients throughout Bartow County, Cobb County, Cherokee County, Gordon County, Floyd County, and Paulding County. We welcome you to contact Criminal & DUI Law of Georgia to schedule an appointment.