Disorderly conduct is not a felony in Minnesota. While this offense is limited to a misdemeanor under state law, that does not mean a conviction for disorderly conduct is free of serious consequences. A disorderly conduct conviction could dramatically impact your life in a number of ways.
If you face charges of disorderly conduct in Minnesota, an aggressive defense could result in dismissal of the charges. Even if the prosecutor in your case refuses to dismiss the charges, prevailing in a disorderly conduct trial is possible. To discuss your defense options, contact the attorneys at Gerald Miller as soon as possible.
Disorderly Conduct Laws in Minnesota
The offense of disorderly conduct is governed by Minnesota Statutes Section 609.72. According to the statute, disorderly conduct applies in three fairly specific circumstances. A conviction for disorderly conduct is possible when a person, knowing their conduct is likely to alarm, disturb, or anger others, does any of the following:
- engages in brawling or fighting; or
- disturbs an assembly or meeting, not unlawful in its character; or
- engages in offensive, obscene, abusive, boisterous, or noisy conduct or in offensive, obscene, or abusive language tending reasonably to arouse alarm, anger, or resentment in others.
This conduct can occur in any public place, but the statute makes clear it specifically applies on a school bus.
There is a specific exception outlined in the statute. While there are multiple potential defenses to a disorderly conduct charge in Minnesota, this is the only one written into state law. The disorderly conduct statute does not apply in cases where the conduct in question resulted from an epileptic seizure. This exception also applies to other related neurological issues. Ultimately, disorderly conduct is a crime of intent. A person that otherwise meets the elements of a disorderly conduct conviction does not have the necessary criminal intent if their actions resulted from uncontrolled bodily movement.
Unintentional, uncontrolled movements brought on by epileptic seizures make up only one potential defense to a disorderly conduct claim. There are other viable defenses that could also apply.
Self-defense claims often serve as successful defenses in disorderly conduct cases. This defense specifically applies to allegations of fighting or brawling. You have the right to defend yourself or others in the face of physical harm. If you were threatened with imminent violence and defended yourself using reasonable force, you could have a viable defense to a disorderly conduct claim. It is important to note that, like with an assault charge, your use of force must be reasonable. These claims will fail in cases where no reasonable person could find you were under immediate threat of harm.
Exercising your first amendment right to free speech is another common defense in a disorderly conduct case. These offenses walk a fine line when it comes to constitutionality, given that it can involve an arrest based on speech alone. Many forms of speech are protected even if they are annoying or otherwise disturb the peace. The important distinction is whether or not they are examples of “fighting words.” Any statement that is likely to spur violence is not protected by the first amendment.
In some cases, the state can struggle to provide evidence of guilt. The facts of some disorderly conduct arrests can be subjective. Additionally, it is not uncommon for police to make multiple arrests for disorderly conduct in an effort to control an unruly crowd. In these cases, the prosecutor may find they have virtually no evidence of wrongdoing related to a particular defendant.
You may be asking, Is disorderly conduct in Minnesota is a felony? Disorderly conduct in Minnesota is not a felony, so the potential penalties that come with it are much less severe than a standard felony. The penalties for this offense can vary, though. In most cases, a disorderly conduct conviction carries up to 90 days in jail and a maximum fine of $1,000. However, a caregiver that is found guilty of disorderly conduct against a person classified as vulnerable under state law can face as much as one year in jail and a maximum fine of $3,000.
There are significant consequences that can follow a disorderly conduct arrest. While most first-time offenders avoid jail, a conviction could present a variety of challenges for the rest of your life. To learn about your defense options, contact the attorneys at Gerald Miller today for a free consultation.