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What constitutes disorderly conduct?

Disorderly conduct seems like a straightforward offense. However, several factors need to be present, according to Virginia law, for a person to receive formal charges. 

Disorderly conduct is almost always a misdemeanor on its own, but it can become accompanied by other offenses that could qualify as felonies. In addition to the person acting recklessly, there are certain factors that need to be present for disorderly conduct charges to stick. 


Disorderly conduct charges can occur almost anywhere, even if it is not necessarily in public. For example, if a person causes a scene in a school, government building or funeral home, then the disruptive person could face charges even though those buildings are not necessarily in public. Additionally, a landlord can file disorderly conduct charges against his or her renters in their apartment or home. 

Examples of disorderly conduct

This crime can take various forms. Some of the most common examples include:

  • Public drunkenness
  • Reckless behavior in a crowded area
  • Loitering
  • Noise ordinance violations

There may also be instances where a specific occurrence does not fit neatly into another criminal category. In these cases, the police may file it under disorderly conduct. 

Addition of public intoxication

Many people deal with dual charges of public intoxication and disorderly conduct. These are two separate charges that an attorney will need to fight. For these charges to stick, a prosecutor will need to prove the person in question was both in public and intoxicated. Similarly to disorderly conduct, being "in public" can include acting inebriated in a school or government building.

For a court to prove a person was under the influence of alcohol, the prosecution simply needs to show the person consumed alcohol that evening. This can be as simple as a police report stating the person had alcohol on his or her breath. Public intoxication is also a misdemeanor on its own. 

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Ronald E. Smith, P.C.

criminal defense & Social security disability law

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