Defense Attorney for Disturbing the Peace in OC
In the state of California, challenging someone to a fight, threatening someone, inciting violence, and loud noises can result in a charge of disturbing the peace. While these charges may only lead to an infraction or misdemeanor, your actions may very well have been protected by the first amendment and, with the right attorney, you may be able to pursue a plea of not guilty.
If you've been arrested or cited for Disturbing the Peace, it's very important to contact our Orange County criminal defense attorneys at Law Office of Michael L. Guisti. Our lead attorney can advocate for you the moment you are arrested and work to have your charges reduced or dismissed. Call us at (714) 530-9690 or toll-free at (888) 478-8999 to schedule a free consultation.
The majority of disturbing the peace arrests CA Penal Code Section 415 PC fall into three categories:
- Fighting Words—any offensive and/or threatening languages which was likely to incite violence in another person
- Assault and Battery—willfully and unlawfully fighting with another in public or challenging someone to fight
- Unreasonable Noises—usually not used with cases involving neighbors complaining about loud parties, but rather with regard to noises which could be perceived as a threat or which disrupted lawful activity
In order for the prosecution to land a conviction where a fight occurs or threatening language is used, the district attorney must demonstrate beyond a reasonable doubt that:
- You willingly attempted to break the law;
- In order to engage in a fight with another individual;
- In an illegal manner; AND
- You were in a public place when you issued this challenge, or the fight occurred.
Essentially, disturbing the peace is based on the concept that you intended to commit violence upon another individual or, in the case of “unreasonable noises,” attempted to irritate or annoy another individual in a threatening or disrespectful manner. It is important to note that, in the instance of a fight or altercation, your actions must have been considered unlawful. That means that sparring, wrestling, or roughhousing in public, such as at a park, may not necessarily be considered disturbing the peace unless you were unreasonably loud or the situation became more serious. In addition, you may be protected under California’s self-defense laws.
In contrast, to be charged as being unreasonably loud, you must have:
- Played or made unreasonably loud noises in a malicious manner in order to annoy someone else; AND
- The other person was home or in the building at the time of the disturbance.
This law can refer to a variety of situations, however, it does not apply to individuals who were lawfully performing a job, such as a construction worker, carpenter, or maintenance worker. You may also only receive a warning if you hosted a loud party or played your music too loud in an apartment. Rather, this law may apply to a public protest that becomes extremely loud and has the potential to lead to becoming a riot.
"We were having a party at out house. The police said we were being too loud and gave me a disturbing the peace ticket. I couldn’t believe how serious this charge is. After telling the story to Michael L. Guisti’s legal people they agreed it was a trumped up charge by an inexperienced police officer. Attorney Michael L. Guisti was able to get the charge reduced to a minor infraction."
Under Penal Code 415 PC, disturbing the peace may be charged as an infraction or misdemeanor, however, it can be paired to other charges like assault and battery. A minor offense such as playing music too loud to annoy a neighbor or challenging someone to a fight will likely only lead to an infraction, which may only lead to a fine. However, with a misdemeanor charge, you may receive up to:
- Up to 90 days in a county jail; and/or
- A $400 fine.
If no one was injured or the district attorney feels that the crime was not that serious, you may only receive an infraction. Infractions are the lightest possible sentence you can receive for a crime and will have fewer ramifications for your life. For example, if you are applying for a job and are asked if you have been convicted of committing a misdemeanor or felony, it would not be a lie to say no.
Misdemeanor charges are often only pursued in situations that had the potential to lead to serious injuries, such as at a protest or riot, or if you are entering into a plea bargain for a more serious crime.
Remember, it is on the prosecution to prove that you intended to commit or incite violence through your words or actions. That means that your attorney can employ several defense strategies to have your charges reduced or dropped, such as:
- There was no intent to incite violence
- Your actions were protected under the first amendment
- The allegations are false
- You were defending yourself from an attacker
Even though the penalties may seem light compared to other more serious charges, it is still important to defend your right to free speech and ensure that you are not charged for a crime you did not commit. But to do that, you will need the aid of a skilled attorney.
By having an experienced OC defense attorney like Michael L. Guisti fighting for your rights it may be possible to reduce your charges from a misdemeanor to infraction, which is equivalent to a traffic ticket. A misdemeanor may not seem like much, but it will come up when employers and rental companies look at your record, while an infraction will not.
If you're facing charges of disturbing the peace, by calling our attorneys at Law Office of Michael L. Guisti, we can work to provide you with the legal representation you will need to get your life back. Call our award-winning firm at (714) 530-9690 or toll-free at (888) 478-8999 to schedule a free consultation!
Whether you're facing a felony or a misdemeanor, don't risk a conviction. Act quickly to redeem your reputation and protect your record by consulting with our Orange County criminal defense lawyer. Call today to schedule your free consultation.