What is Disorderly Conduct?

You may have heard of so called "catch-all" crimes such as disturbing the peace or disorderly conduct. These types of criminal charges have very broad definitions so that they can be applied to almost anything the State sees fit.

But what is the actual definition and how can you be charged with this crime? In Illinois, Disorderly Conduct is found at 720 ILCS 5/26-1 and is categorized as either a Class A, B, Or C misdemeanor, depending on which section is violated. Let's examine a select few of the provisions of this statute (not all provisions of the statute are included in this article).

(1) Does any act in such unreasonable manner as to alarm or disturb another and to provoke a breach of the peace;

This is the catch-all portion of the statute that can really be defined as almost anything. What does it mean to "breach the peace" or "disturb" someone? It follows an objective, reasonable person standard, which gives us some guidance, but still is not concrete. Some examples could be attempting to instigate a fight in a public place, yelling "fire!" in a crowded place, and many others.

Make no mistake, if an officer wants to arrest you, they can almost always find some act or behavior which can fit into this broad and not well-defined provision.

(3) Transmits or causes to be transmitted in any manner to another a false alarm to the effect that a bomb or other explosive of any nature or a container holding poison gas, a deadly biological or chemical contaminant, or radioactive substance is concealed in a place where its explosion or release would endanger human life, knowing at the time of the transmission that there is no reasonable ground for believing that the bomb, explosive or a container holding poison gas, a deadly biological or chemical contaminant, or radioactive substance is concealed in the place;

This section is a very long-winded and legal way of saying you made a false report of a bomb-threat. Seems like a logical provision to have and the well-defined nature of this provision is a welcome sight compared to provision (1).

Provisions 2 - 10 exclusively detail acts involving making false reports towards various governmental agencies, such as 911, fire departments, and so on. These make sense and are easily provable through phone records or written reports.

(11) Enters upon the property of another and for a lewd or unlawful purpose deliberately looks into a dwelling on the property through any window or other opening in it; or

This is another well-defined provision which details trespassing on another's land for purposes of being a "peeping tom" and is something most people would agree is a fair and reasonable provision.

To conclude...

The majority of this statute is fair and reasonable concerning the filing and/or making of false reports. What is not fair and reasonable is provision (1), which is so poorly-defined that it can encompass almost any "bad" act and allows the government to subjectively determine what would be a violation for each individual case.

If you have been charged with disorderly conduct, you will need an experienced lawyer to fully research and analyze your case to determine what defenses can apply. Our office can help with this criminal matter, call today for a free initial consultation at 847-707-0774 to speak with an attorney about your case.

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