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Disturbing the peace: is it a serious criminal offense?

Any type of criminal charge is a potential threat to your future, but there are some offenses that are more serious than others. When facing a seemingly minor charge, you may feel the temptation to underestimate the potential impact that these allegations can have on your life. What seems like a small problem now can have a big impact on your long-term interests and opportunities.

Disturbing the peace is a type of criminal charge that involves someone who allegedly acted in a disorderly manner that affected other people. Each individual has the right to peace, and when another person disturbs that peace in some way, it can ultimately result in criminal charges. This is a misdemeanor offense, and a conviction will go on your permanent criminal record. 

What does it involve?

Disturbing the peace involves various behaviors that are disruptive, loud, obtrusive or offensive to others. To have a case for disturbing the peace, there must be evidence that the offending party intended to act in a disruptive manner. Examples of this include: 

  • Using offensive language in a public place in order to start a fight
  • Fighting in a public place or inciting violence in a public place
  • Bullying a student on or near school property
  • Shouting at a person's home while driving by over an extended period of time
  • Intentionally playing loud music even after someone gave you a fair warning
  • Allowing a dog to bark excessively in a residential area
  • Holding a public assembly without the proper permissions

One of the most complex aspects of prosecuting someone for disturbing the peace is the element of intent. It can be quite difficult to provide evidence that the defendant acted willfully or maliciously. Fighting that was in self-defense or in the defense of others does not count as disturbing the peace.

Protect your future 

There could be a lot at stake when facing charges of disturbing the peace, even if it seems like it's not a grave criminal offense. You are facing the possibility of jail time, mandated community service, fines and more. A mark on your criminal record can also impact things like your job opportunities, college applications and your personal reputation.

A practical first step for you is to seek the guidance and support of an experienced Virginia criminal defense attorney. An assessment of your case can help you understand how to develop a strategy by which you can effectively fight back and protect your future.

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Ronald E. Smith, P.C.

criminal defense & Social security disability law

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