What are the Consequences in GA for Disturbing the Peace?

If you are accused of disturbing the peace, such as by behaving in a belligerent manner in public, you can face misdemeanor charges for disorderly conduct.

Being annoying is not a crime. If you could be charged criminally just for being noisy and rambunctious, then we would all have served time in jail before reaching adulthood. Furthermore, the right to freedom of expression protects you against criminal prosecution for simply saying things that other people disagree with. The more carefully you think about when troublesome behavior that does not, by itself, cause bodily injury or property damage, is so troublesome that the state has the right to interfere with it, the harder it is to find a one-size-fits-all definition. Where is the line between disturbing the peace and harassment? Where is the line between disturbing the peace and free speech? Some legal scholars have spent their entire careers exploring these questions. In practice, judges apply laws about disturbing the peace rather subjectively, and this can work to the advantage or disadvantage of defendants. The Atlanta blue collar crimes attorneys at Zimmerman & Associates can help you if you are facing criminal charges for disorderly conduct or disturbing the peace.

Disturbing the Peace is More Than Just Making Noise

Georgia law defines disturbing the peace as causing a disturbance that interferes with the “tranquility and good order of the community.” This is a broad enough definition that it covers a wide range of activities, including several criminal offenses, plus plenty of actions that count as civil infractions rather than crimes. For example, you can receive a civil penalty if you play loud music at night after the police tell you to stop. On the other hand, public drunkenness is its own criminal offense. If you appear in public nude, you can be charged with indecent exposure. One of the most common consequences of disturbing the peace, though, is criminal charges for disorderly conduct.

Disorderly Conduct or Protected Speech?

Disorderly conduct is a criminal offense that entails behaving in an aggressive manner such as to provoke fear in bystanders or attempting to provoke a physical fight. The volume of your voice, as well as the use of obscene language, can factor into a court’s decision to charge you with disorderly conduct. Likewise, if you use obscene language when addressing a child under the age of 14, even if you do not do so in an especially angry or intimidating tone, you can be charged with disorderly conduct. There is more room for debate than you might imagine about which speech acts constitute disorderly conduct, and people sometimes plead guilty to disorderly conduct in exchange for the court dropping more serious charges, such as harassment or assault.

Contact Zimmerman & Associates About Disturbing the Peace Cases in Georgia

An Atlanta criminal defense attorney can help you if you are facing criminal charges for disorderly conduct or disturbing the peace. Contact Zimmerman & Associates in Atlanta, Georgia to set up a free consultation.