Maybe you just got a little rowdy while you were on vacation, or maybe you just lost your temper somewhere and made a few obscene comments toward someone in a bar.
Whatever the situation, you certainly didn’t expect to be charged with a crime, but you’ve been slapped with a disorderly conduct violation.
What is disorderly conduct?
Under Section 711-1101, disorderly conduct can involve any kind of publicly disruptive behavior that causes others some physician inconvenience or alarm. This includes behavior like:
- Getting drunk in public and play-fighting (or actually fighting) with your buddies on the street outside the bar
- Loudly yelling at someone in public – stranger or not – using offensive language and slurs because you’re angry
- Turning your music up so loud that it you’re subjecting everyone else around you to the same noise
- Cat-calling women (or men) and making suggestive gestures until they’re too uncomfortable to pass by
- Panhandling on a sidewalk in such a way that you could be accused of blocking people from passing
In other words, it’s a fairly broad charge that can be leveled at you when you’re fighting or making threats, just being unreasonably noisy, blocking the public’s way or subjecting another person to verbal abuse.
Should you fight the charge?
In Hawaii, disorderly conduct is a petty misdemeanor, so you can’t be imprisoned for more than 30 days – and even that is unlikely for most first-time offenders. Should you bother to fight the charges or simply take an agreement that lets you pay a fine and get on with your life?
Consider this: If you accept a plea, that conviction is going to go on your record. That means that it will be seen by every potential employer or landlord you ever have – and that can give them the wrong impression of you. Also, if you ever get into trouble again, that prior charge can be weighted against you during sentencing.
Don’t let a disorderly conduct charge go unchallenged. Find out more about your defense options.