Most people have heard the term disorderly conduct, but what does it mean exactly? If you’re arrested for disorderly conduct in North Carolina, it means you could be facing fines and jail time. You could also find yourself awaiting trial for a charge that doesn’t really seem to fit the definition of disorderly conduct. But what should you do?
Understanding North Carolina Disorderly Conduct Laws
Disorderly conduct in North Carolina is usually a misdemeanor.
Applicable Law: North Carolina General Statutes Chapter 14. Criminal Law § 14-288.4. Disorderly conduct.
Under North Carolina law, “disorderly conduct” has a broad definition that can include:
(1) Fighting or violent conduct
(2) Uttering, gesturing, or using abusive language with the intention to provoke a violent action and breach the peace
(3) Taking possession of or control over a school without the administration’s permission
(4) Refusing to leave any building or facility if asked to leave by an authority such as law enforcement or dean of students
(5) Sitting, kneeling, lying down, congregating, or assembling after being told not to by the chief administrative officer, or disrupting or interfering with teaching students in a private or public education setting
(6) Engaging in any conduct that disturbs the peace on a public school bus
(7) Disrupts or interferes with a religious service or assembly
These rules might seem pretty specific until you’re arrested for breaking one of them or give them a closer read. Upon closer reflection, you might have a few questions such as:
- What exactly constitutes fighting?
- How does the law define “abusive language” or “disrupt”?
- Does this mean I can get arrested for peacefully protesting?
Judges are tasked with interpreting the law. What exactly constitutes breaking the law is up to the courts to decide. Meanwhile, you might find yourself arrested and in jail awaiting trial because a police officer decides that your behavior falls into one of these categories of disorderly conduct in NC.
What is Failure to Disperse?
The “failure to disperse” law is a related regulation often connected with disorderly conduct in North Carolina. Failure to disperse is a misdemeanor.
Applicable Law: North Carolina General Statutes Chapter 14. Criminal Law § 14-288.5. Failure to disperse when commanded a misdemeanor.
Under North Carolina law, “failure to disperse” is defined as: not dispersing after a reasonable amount of time and remaining at the scene of an assembly or riot after being told by law enforcement or a public official to leave.
Again, the interpretation of words and phrases like “reasonable amount of time” and “riot” are up to a judge to decide. Police officers often feel they can arrest you and let the courts sort it out later.
Punishment for Disorderly Conduct in North Carolina
In North Carolina, a disorderly conduct charge that falls under any of the above categories is a Class 2 misdemeanor. If you’re convicted of disorderly conduct in North Carolina, your conviction comes with a fine of up to $1000 and a maximum sentence of 60 days in jail. Failure to disperse is also a Class 2 misdemeanor that comes with the same category of punishment.
If you’re a first-time offender, the judge might let you off with a fine and not make you serve two months in jail. However, this is up to the discretion of the judge doing the sentencing.
What If I’m Arrested?
If you or a family member are arrested for disorderly conduct in North Carolina, you’ll want to start the process of seeking legal counsel and getting out of jail to prepare your defense.
A judge will set your bail relatively quickly after you’re arrested. You might be let out on a promise to appear, or you might be required to post bail.
Whether or not a judge lets you out on a promise to appear usually depends on your prior convictions and if the judge considers you a flight risk.
Consider using a bail bondsman to get out of jail faster and more affordably. Disorderly conduct bail bonds aren’t usually very expensive compared to felony bail bonds. You’ll usually pay between 10-15 percent of your total bail amount to get out of jail through a bail bondsman. You can contact DJ’s Bail Bonds in North Carolina 24-hours a day to get bailed out quickly and affordably.