South Carolina law contains various statutes devoted to preserving the peace within local communities. One of the more commonly charged offenses in this category is disorderly conduct, which has a few specific definitions under the law, but can also apply to various other circumstances.
It can be difficult to effectively fight disorderly conduct charges without an experienced defense attorney’s assistance given how vaguely this crime is defined. It is important to work with a knowledgeable Greenville disorderly conduct lawyer to give yourself the best chance of resolving this matter efficiently, and in a way that does not cause undue damage to your personal or professional reputation.
Defining Disorderly Conduct Under State Law
According to South Carolina Code of Laws §16-17-530, there are three actions in particular that constitute disorderly conduct. Namely, a person may be charged with disorderly conduct for:
- Being substantially intoxicated or otherwise acting in a “disorderly or boisterous manner” in public
- Using obscene language in a public place or in earshot of a church or schoolhouse
- Discharging a firearm on or within 50 yards of a public road without good cause and while intoxicated
It is important to note that what specifically qualifies as “disorderly or boisterous” is very much a matter of opinion—specifically, the opinion of an arresting law enforcement officer. Because of this, disorderly conduct is often used as a catch-all charge imposed against anyone deemed to be disturbing the peace.
While intoxication is a component of certain types of disorderly conduct, it is not a requirement for someone to be arrested for and convicted of this particular offense. An experienced Greenville attorney could provide more details about how local authorities handle this crime, and what options a person arrested for disorderly conduct may have for challenging the allegations against them.
Possible Penalties from a Conviction for Disorderly Conduct
Disorderly conduct is a misdemeanor offense punishable by a $100 fine and a maximum 30-day jail sentence. If someone with no prior convictions for disorderly conduct or any similar offenses in other states is arrested, they could be eligible for conditional discharge. A conditional discharge means the Court would impose a short term of probation, without entering a judgment of guilt. Typically, this term of probation would also require completion of a treatment and rehabilitation program. Successful completion of such a program, and the payment of a $150 court fee, may allow for all proceedings related to this first-time disorderly conduct offense to be cleared from a defendant’s record. However, if the individual violates any terms of the probation, the court would enter a judgment of guilt, and possibly place the person in jail.
The judge does have some discretion in setting penalties for a disorderly conduct charge, so it is important to work with an attorney who understands how to present a case in a favorable way. As a former municipal judge, Greenville lawyer Christopher L. Jones understands how to navigate the courtroom, and advocate for a defendant facing disorderly conduct charges.
Discuss Your Case with a Greenville Disorderly Conduct Attorney
Disorderly conduct is not an especially serious criminal offense by itself, but the consequences a conviction can have are still worth taking seriously. Any criminal conviction on your record—even one for a minor misdemeanor—could cause impact your personal and professional prospects. Having a criminal record could also mean that any future offense would be prosecuted more harshly.
Retaining a dedicated Greenville disorderly conduct lawyer could be a key first step towards effectively protecting your rights and your future. Call today to learn more about your options.