• JC Serrano

Criminal Defense Lawyer for Disturbing the Peace

Updated: Jun 5

Find A Criminal Defense Attorney for Public Disturbance


California Penal Code Section 415 prohibits disturbing the peace. When a defendant disturbs public peace by making unnecessary noise, particularly in a residential area, it is charged as a minor criminal offense. The operation of any instrument, equipment, vehicle, an electronic device (including games, images, and radios), or noise caused by their own voice or other personal activity may all cause disruption.


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Local ordinances differ. Time constraints, reasonable noise levels, zoning rules, permitting, and other factors may all influence the results of these charges. Typically, an accusation of "disturbing the peace" stems from a personal complaint. A private nuisance lawsuit, in which injunctive relief and/or damages may be obtained in civil court, is often the remedy (not criminal).


If any of the following apply to you, you might have disturbed the peace:

  1. You were engaged in an illegal public brawl or challenged someone to fight you in a public place. The prosecutor must show that you willfully fought or challenged another person to battle you and that the fight or challenge took place in a public place. The prosecution must show that you meant for the war to take place and that you behaved with malice. You have broken the peace if these can be proven.

  2. You purposefully and maliciously caused a disturbance to another person by making excessive and unnecessary noise. The prosecutor must show not only that you intended to do something wrong or that you intended to offend or hurt someone else by making an excessively loud noise but also that you intended for that noise to interrupt someone else.

To show that the noise caused a disturbance to another individual, the noise had to have posed a threat of immediate aggression or been used to obstruct lawful activities.


If you refuse to avoid making excessive, unnecessary noise when asked by another person or a law enforcement officer, a judge or jury may decide that you acted knowingly and with malice.


You used offensive terms in a public place that were inherently likely to elicit an immediate violent response


The prosecutor must show that you said something that was fairly likely to cause another person to retaliate violently and that it was predictable that the other person would retaliate violently when you said it.


It makes no difference what your purpose was when you made a comment.


If, on the other hand, you had a reasonable expectation that your comment would not result in an immediate violent response, you are unlikely to be found guilty of disturbing the peace.


Public Fights


If you're convicted, you're accused of fighting or daring someone to fight in a public place on purpose. The keyword here is "willfully," which implies that you acted illegally on purpose. If you were defending yourself, though, you could not be charged. The following are some general guidelines for determining what constitutes self-defense:

  • You had a reasonable fear that someone would hurt you.

  • You correctly concluded that the only way to defend yourself was to use force.

  • You used only enough force to defend yourself in a fair manner.

What Do You Do If You Get Into a Fight?


As in any personal injury situation, there are things you can do right away after the incident to greatly assist the case. The faster you get started, the better, but make sure you're in good health first.

  1. Seek medical help. This is vital not only for your health and safety, but it can also help you win the case. It's much more difficult to persuade a judge or jury of the seriousness of your injury if you don't have any medical evidence to back up your statements or if you waited several days to see a doctor. Learn more about the impact of medical attention on a personal injury case.

  2. Inform the establishment's management of the incident. Dram shop laws in certain states require you to do so within a certain amount of time following an injury-causing incident. Insurance providers and juries are more likely to doubt the validity of the statements if you wait to report the incident.

  3. Get the names and contact details of any witnesses who may know what happened during and before the incident. Find out how witnesses can aid in a personal injury case.

  4. After an accident in a bar or nightclub, the best first move would be to speak with a Personal Injury Attorney for details that is specific to your case.


For Injuries Sustained in a Bar or Nightclub, Who Would You Sue?


The person who hurt you will be the first and most obvious possible defendant in a personal injury case for damage sustained in a bar or nightclub. Liability can arise from malicious tort rules (if the individual hurt you on purpose) or from a negligence theory, depending on the circumstances (if they hurt you accidentally; while they were fighting someone else, for example).


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In most cases, though, suing the person who started the war makes little sense. This is because there will be no insurance coverage for the incident, and the individual who injured you does not have enough money to settle any personal injury penalty you obtain against them in court. Instead, you can concentrate your efforts on bringing a lawsuit against the institution where the war occurred.Consider one of our prescreened California Lawyers in your California Attorney Search.


Causing others to be disturbed by loud or malicious noise


A defendant who was attending a party or other event and a neighbor complained about the noise level is too loud is the best example. For this charge to result in a conviction, two requirements must be met:

  1. You purposefully and maliciously made an excessively loud noise.

  2. You purposefully made a noise that bothered another person.

The words "willfully" and "maliciously" should be noted. In many criminal trials, they are the most difficult issue for prosecutors to solve. The prosecution must prove that you were deliberate and malicious in making the noise; that the noise was so bad that it posed a threat of violence; or that the noise itself was illegal, as defined by the state.


For certain people, noise pollution is a major problem. It can rob you of sleep, cause hearing loss, increase stress, and even be related to heart disease, in addition to being irritating. What would you do to deal with the condition when the blood pressure rises in tandem with the decibel levels?


Local Initiatives


Make sure you're familiar with the noise laws in your city and county. In most cities, there are restrictions on when it is permissible to run equipment, listen to loud music, or participate in other disruptive activities. Some can specify decibel levels that are appropriate, as well as quiet hours.


Engaging your neighbor in conversation, whether in person or by other means, is often a good idea. Focusing on the rules rather than one's personal needs is a less confrontational approach to dealing with a problem, particularly if it's a recurring issue rather than a one-time occurrence. Maybe your neighbor isn't aware that they're bothering you, and having this talk would solve the issue.


If talking does not solve the problem, a law enforcement alert might be necessary. Repeat offenses can result in citations or even arrests if things get out of control, but if things get out of hand, police will always stop the issue for the time being with a notice that they got a call.


For certain people, noise pollution is a major problem. It can rob you of sleep, cause hearing loss, increase stress, and even be related to heart disease, in addition to being irritating. What would you do to deal with the condition when the blood pressure rises in tandem with the decibel levels? Consult a Criminal Defense Attorney if there are other things you wish to understand.


Local Initiatives


Make sure you're familiar with the noise laws in your city and county. In most cities, there are restrictions on when it is permissible to run equipment, listen to loud music, or participate in other disruptive activities. Some can specify decibel levels that are appropriate, as well as quiet hours.


Engaging your neighbor in conversation, whether in person or by other means, is often a good idea. Focusing on the rules rather than one's personal needs is a less confrontational approach to dealing with a problem, particularly if it's a recurring issue rather than a one-time occurrence. Maybe your neighbor isn't aware that they're bothering you, and having this talk would solve the issue.


If talking does not solve the problem, a law enforcement alert might be necessary. Repeat offenses can result in citations or even arrests if things get out of control, but if things get out of hand, police will always stop the issue for the time being with a notice that they got a call.


Mediation


Mediation, a mechanism in which Criminal Defense Attorneys promote an agreement between parties, is one of the most common conflict-resolution strategies. Around 60% of the time, it is efficient, and the participants are generally happy with the procedure. Make sure you locate and recruit a professional mediator who can plan and manage the logistics of bringing all neighbors to the table to settle their differences. Mediation services are also available in some cities and counties, which are run in collaboration with local law schools or firms.


This is particularly useful in cases where the owner doesn't see a clear way to solve the problem, such as a barking dog. In an inclusive model of cooperative dispute resolution, mediation enables both sides to be heard. This would be superior to, say, the court system's win-lose nature.


Civil Lawsuits and Small Claims Court


If the noise persists after you've taken the measures above, you can go to a small claims court. A nuisance action will be filed in response to a noise complaint. To support their point, one would want to gather as many reports and documentation of noise incidents as possible. Criminal Defense Attorneys aren't often permitted in small claims cases, unfortunately.


Enforcing a judge's order necessitates the involvement of law enforcement once more. Since a nuisance allegation can be difficult to negotiate, hire a reputable civil litigator to help you get through the maze.


Inappropriate and Offensive Language


The obscene words must have been spoken in public and used to incite a violent response. To put it another way, you might be charged with disrupting the peace if you taunted another individual by using offensive language. In general, using offensive words (vulgar or profane words) casually does not result in a penalty.


The following are some examples of conduct that may be construed as threatening, violent, or disrespectful words or actions:

  • threats made against unwitting bystanders or people performing public service duties

  • an individual participating in a demonstration or other public gathering who throws missiles but causes no harm

  • scuffles, incidents of violence, or threats of violence that occur during a brawl (such as in or in the vicinity of a public house)

  • When a person is targeted by a gang, there are instances that do not warrant a charge of assault.

Conduct that is capable of amounting to intimidating, abusive, or insulting words or actions for the purposes of an offense under section 4 would be more severe than conduct that is capable of amounting to threatening, abusive, or insulting words or behavior for the purposes of an offense under section 4A or for threatening or abusive behavior under section 5.

  • Section 4 can be prosecuted as a separate racially or religiously aggravated offense under section 31(1)(a) of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 (as amended by the Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001). Prosecutors can consult the CPS Guidance on Prosecuting Racist and Religious Crime, which can be found in the Legal Guidance section.

  • Section 4 is a racially/religiously aggravated offense that carries a maximum sentence of two years in prison, a fine, or both if convicted. On summary conviction, the maximum punishment is 6 months in prison or a fine not reaching the statutory maximum, or both.

  • Section 57 of the Crime and Courts Act 2013 amended sections 5(1) and 6(4) of the Public Order Act 1986. With effect from February 1 2014, this amendment eliminates the word 'insulting' from the two pages. Section 5(3) defenses to this crime will not change. The "insulting" arm is now excluded from the racially or religiously aggravated form of section 5 Public Order Act offense (i.e., the offense contrary to section 31(1)(c) Crime and Disorder Act 1998) as a result of the amendment.

The amendment aims to strengthen Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights' defense of the right to freedom of speech (ECHR). The use of merely 'insulting words or actions, or the appearance of merely 'insulting' writing, signs, or other identifiable representations within the hearing of anyone likely to be harassed, alarmed, or distressed, would no longer be a criminal offense under section 5. (1). However, more severe, premeditated, and malicious instances of disrespectful conduct can still be punishable under section 4A. The "insulting" limb is also retained in Section 4 of the Public Order Act 1986 (fear or provocation of violence).

Since the "insulting" part has been removed, prosecutors would have to carefully consider whether conduct occurring on or after February 1, 2014, constitutes the commission of the section 5 offense.

The Constitution guarantees freedom of expression, although there are a few exceptions, such as the use of threats of violence. The use of offensive terms, also known as "war words," is another potential exception to free speech. This includes an expression that has the potential to cause an immediate breach of the peace by inciting a war or violent retaliation. There is no definitive list of words that will be deemed insulting in order to incite a war. It will have to be decided based on the facts of the event, the alleged speaker, the person allegedly offended, and the location and manner in which the situation occurs. A Criminal Defense Attorney might be able to clarify the case for you.


What Is My Right to Free Speech Under the Constitution?


Disturbing the peace is protected by an exception to the right to free expression known as the "war terms" exception.


The courts in California have ruled that such "bat