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Maryland Disorderly Conduct Lawyer
Anyone at any time can find themselves facing disorderly conduct charges in Maryland. Under Section 10-201 of the criminal code of Maryland, a variety of activities are prohibited, including acting in a disorderly manner that disturbs the public peace and making unreasonably loud noise. While the charge of disorderly conduct is considered a misdemeanor in the state of Maryland, an experienced criminal defense lawyer can help you avoid costly fines and possible jail time, especially if you are a repeat offender. Here is a more in-depth look at Maryland disorderly conduct laws.
One of the difficulties with the state law governing disorderly conduct is that the language of “disturbing the peace” is open-textured, and ambiguous. Consequently, sentencing can vary from judge to judge. Repeated disorderly conduct convictions, especially those involving alcohol, can have far-reaching consequences. Offenders can have their driver’s license suspended, be forced to attend alcohol or anger management classes, and even be evicted from their place of residence. If you’re facing disorderly conduct charges, a Maryland defense lawyer can examine all of the evidence involved in your case and look for inconsistencies that could earn you a lighter sentence or even a dismissal.
Disturbing the peace is a charge that can come with some very serious consequences. Please call (301) 761-4842 for a free consultation with an attorney about the charges you face.
Maryland Disorderly Conduct Law
Most disorderly conduct offenses are included in Maryland state laws from § 10-201(c)(1) to § 10-204(c), all of them misdemeanors. A further set of codes deals specifically with disorderly conduct that interferes with the rights of religious institutions to gather within the state. Most of the guidelines and definitions dealing with disorderly conduct, however, fall within § 10-201, and per § 10-201(a), Maryland defines which public places enforce disorderly conduct laws, including:
- Restaurants, shopping centers, taverns, stores, other businesses
- Buildings used by the general public
- Parking lots
- Publicly used streets and sidewalks
- Parks and other public properties
- Educational facilities
- Religious facilities
- Public transportation vehicles (buses, trains, taxi cabs)
Moreover, § 10-201 forbids a person from generally obstructing the passage of another person in a public place or acting in a manner that violates public peace rights. Additionally, citizens are further legally required to obey reasonable and legal orders from law enforcement officers. Certain areas in Maryland also set specific rules that fall under the umbrella of disorderly conduct. For example, in Worcester County, one can be charged with disorderly conduct for building a bonfire between the hours of 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. on a beach or other public property.
The penalty for violating § 10-201 is relatively similar across all individual offenses—a $500.00 fine and up to 60 days in jail. Keeping a disorderly house, however, can result in a $300.00 fine and up to six months behind bars.
Disturbing the Peace
Maryland defense lawyers also regularly defend clients charged with a similar crime: disturbing the peace. More often than not, disturbing the peace is the same as disorderly conduct, but with a few discerning characteristics. For example, disturbing the peace will most likely be the charge if you enter the property of another person and make unreasonably loud noise or act disorderly. Disturbing the peace can also be charged if a person makes loud noise that disturbs another but does not necessarily obstruct the path of another person.
Disturbing the peace is outlined in § 10-201(c)(4), while a special designation for loud noise also exists under § 10-201(c)(5). Both are punishable by a $500.00 fine and up to 60 days in jail. § 10-203(b) specifically forbids citizens from disrupting an athletic contest, particularly by throwing objects onto the playing surface. This law only applies to public athletic contests operated with commercial interests. The state must prove that an object thrown onto the playing surface is likely to, or did, cause injury to a participant in the contest or another observer. § 10-204(c) specifically forbids interference of an emergency vehicle’s ability to travel to or from a medical facility, usually on the facility’s property. This crime is punishable by a $1,000.00 fine and up to 90 days in jail. Finally, a set of laws protect religious institutions from disturbance:
- § 10-302: Citizens may not deface religious property — punishable by a $5,000.00 fine and/or 3 years imprisonment
- § 10-303: Citizens may not obstruct a religious ceremony — punishable by a $5,000.00 fine and/or 3 years imprisonment
- § 10-304 (1): Citizens may not harass a religious person — punishable by a $5,000.00 fine and/or 3 years imprisonment
- § 10-305 (1): Citizens may not damage religious property — punishable by a $5,000.00 fine and/or 3 years imprisonment
If another crime that is ruled a felony is committed at the same time as a violation of § 10-304 (1), the accused can be charged with a felony, which is punishable by up to 10 years imprisonment and a $10,000 fine.
Both disturbing the peace and disorderly conduct are crimes that are usually minor, but they can quickly add up to shockingly severe sentences depending on the circumstances. If you are charged with disorderly conduct or disturbing the peace, a Maryland defense lawyer can help you fight charges and earn the best possible outcome in your case.