DC Disorderly Conduct Lawyer

If you engage in certain disruptive behaviors within public spaces or communal housing areas, you can be charged with a crime in DC.  A DC disorderly conduct lawyer can help you understand the laws that you have been accused of breaking, assist you in exploring defenses, or negotiate a plea bargain to try to avoid a criminal record, jail time, and other serious penalties. Do not hesitate to contact a criminal defense lawyer in DC to discuss your case and see how they can help minimize the harm of your charge.

Disorderly Conduct Laws in DC

DC Code Section 22-1321 defines the offense of disorderly conduct. Disorderly conduct in DC is widely defined, and there are many different actions that would qualify. In any place open to the general public in DC, it is unlawful to intentionally act in a manner that causes another person to be in reasonable fear that their person or property, in immediate possession, is likely to be harmed or taken. It is also unlawful to incite or provoke violence where there is a likelihood that such violence will ensue.

There are also other specific acts that constitute disorderly conduct including the following:

  • Inciting or provoking violence when it is reasonably likely that the violence will actually occur.
  • Acting in a way that causes someone else to fear that his property will be stolen or damaged.
  • Engaging in loud, abusive, or threatening language with the intent and effect of disrupting a lawful gathering, funeral, or congregation of people engaged in any religious services or worship.
  • Directing offensive language or loud gestures at someone in a way that is likely to provoke violence by anyone in the crowd, including the person you are addressing.
  • Engaging in loud, abusive, or threatening language in a public building with the intent and effect of disrupting business in that public space.
  • Engaging in threatening, loud, or abusive language or disruptive conduct with the intent and effect of preventing people from using public conveyances.
  • Urinating or defecating in public, other than in a toilet or urinal.
  • Making loud noises between 10:00 PM and 7:00 AM that are likely to annoy or disturb other people in your residence.

What Constitutes a Public Place

A public area is a place that is open to the general public. The communal areas of multi-unit housing, such as communal areas of an apartment building are considered to be public areas. Other examples of public areas are parks, streets, and sidewalks.


Engaging in these behaviors can result in misdemeanor charges, which carry a penalty of up to 90 days of incarceration as well as a fine of up to $500. Because a disorderly conduct charge can result in a criminal record, it is imperative that you contact a disorderly conduct lawyer in DC as soon as you have been accused.

Post-and-Forfeit Arrangement

A post-and-forfeit arrangement allows a person charged with certain offenses to post-and-forfeit a certain amount of money as collateral, rather than appearing in court.

This arrangement is a full and final resolution of the offense without admitting guilt and without being convicted of the offense. A person who posts-and-forfeits, waives their right to a trial. A person arrested for disorderly conduct may be offered to resolve their case using the post-and-forfeit procedure. This may be offered by a releasing official and is communicated by a written notice, which explains the procedure to the defendant.

Deferred Prosecution Agreement

A deferred prosecution agreement is an agreement between the defendant and the government. In many cases, entering into a deferred prosecution agreement avoids a conviction, so long as the defendant completes the terms of the agreement. If the terms of the agreement are successfully completed, then the government dismisses the charge. Depending on the defendant’s past criminal history, the government may decide to offer a deferred prosecution agreement for a disorderly conduct case.

Help from a DC Disorderly Conduct Lawyer

Disorderly conduct charges does not always mean you will be convicted and a conviction does not always mean that you are going to be sent to jail. A DC disorderly conduct lawyer can advocate for the dismissal of your charges through negotiations with your prosecutor.

A DC disorderly conduct attorney can also help you to plead not guilty and raise defenses in court, so you could potentially avoid conviction and its consequences. Defenses can include a lawful right to engage in the behavior or a lawful exercise of First Amendment rights.  Contact an attorney today to learn more about possible defenses and other legal options you have after being charged.