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Is Disorderly Conduct a Felony in Minnesota?

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 the 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.

If a prosecutor has charged you with disorderly conduct, you might be quite concerned. There are likely many questions running through your head. What penalties could you face if you are convicted? What effects will a felony on your criminal record have on the rest of your life? Can the charges be successfully beaten in court? Hiring a Minneapolis criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible after you have been charged will alleviate some of your worries. Your attorney can explain to you that a disorderly conduct charge in Minnesota is a misdemeanor and not a felony. They can also give you details about what potential defenses could be employed against your charges, and what legal consequences you might face if you are convicted.

What is Disorderly Conduct in Minnesota?

Disorderly conduct charges can stem from actions in nearly any location, including both private and public places, and even school buses. An individual can be charged with disorderly conduct for several different types of behaviors:

● Using obscene, offensive, or abusive gestures or language
● Participating in noisy, obscene, offensive, abusive, or boisterous conduct
● Fighting or brawling
● Unlawfully disturbing a meeting or assembly

To be considered disorderly conduct, the behavior must reasonably cause others in the vicinity to become resentful, angry, or alarmed. The person committing the disorderly conduct must be aware that their actions could upset or endanger others nearby, incite assault, or cause a breach of peace.

Examples of Disorderly Conduct

Disorderly conduct is a broad charge that can apply to both serious behaviors like assault, or seemingly harmless conduct like arguing in your front yard with your spouse. Examples of behavior that could lead to a charge of disorderly conduct include:

● Assault
● Domestic assault
● Brawling
● Bar fights
● Behavior that compromises public safety
● Being too noisy at a house party
● Loitering
● Exhibiting reckless behavior in a crowded area

Exceptions to Disorderly Conduct Charges in Minnesota

If disorderly behavior is due to an epileptic seizure or some other similar neurological event, no charges will be filed. All you would need to do is that you have a medical condition. Additionally, public intoxication alone is not a crime in this state. If public intoxication leads to disorderly conduct, the individual can be charged with disorderly conduct but not public intoxication.

Disorderly Conduct: Misdemeanor or Felony?

According to Minnesota law, disorderly conduct is a misdemeanor and not a felony, meaning the consequences are not as harsh. For a misdemeanor conviction, you could face up to 6 months in jail, a fine of up to $1,000, or both. It is important to talk with your Minneapolis criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to find out what kinds of defense strategies might prove successful against your charges.

If you do not have a criminal history, a conviction of disorderly conduct might only require you to pay a fine of between $200 and $500, and not serve any jail time. You might also be ordered to complete community service. Most disorderly conduct convictions require probation. Under a probation sentence of one to two years, the offender must be a law-abiding citizen and not commit any offenses of a similar type.

Disorderly conduct charges that are related to drug or alcohol use may require random urinalysis tests or restrict the offender from using any alcohol or drugs during the probationary period. If any of the probation orders are violated, the convicted offender could be required to serve the jail time that had been suspended under their probation sentence.

It is crucial to note that caregivers convicted of this charge will face stricter penalties. If a caregiver commits disorderly conduct and a vulnerable adult is a victim, the caregiver can be convicted of a gross misdemeanor. Upon conviction, they could be incarcerated for up to 1 year, pay a fine of up to $3,000, or both.

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:

  1. engages in brawling or fighting; or
  2. disturbs an assembly or meeting, not unlawful in its character; or
  3. 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.

Potential Defenses

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 they 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 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.

Questions about Your Charges? Meet with a Minnesota Disorderly Conduct Lawyer Today

If you face disorderly conduct or similar criminal charges in Minnesota, it is imperative to reach out to a criminal defense attorney. Having an experienced Minneapolis criminal defense lawyer evaluate the evidence and conditions of your case enhances your ability to successfully defend yourself against these charges, possibly lessening the charges or having them dismissed altogether.

At Gerald Miller P.A., your legal needs are our priority. Our staff can be reached 24 hours a day. Start your disorderly conduct representation with a free consultation. Contact us online or call 612-440-4608 today. We have more than three decades of experience representing clients just like you.

Related Content: What Crimes are Felonies in Minneapolis?

About the author

Gerald Miller

Gerald Miller is a top-notch and experienced DWI/DUI lawyer at Gerald Miller P.A. in Minneapolis, MN. He has more than 35 years of experience in Criminal Defense practice. He has also been a mentor to numerous DUI/DWI defense attorneys.

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