California Penal Code §415: Disturbing the Peace can be treated as an infraction or a misdemeanor in California. This criminal charge can involve:
- Fighting: Fighting or attempting to instigate a fight in a public place
- Noise Violations” Noise violations are considered to be disturbing the peace with the noise is malicious or intended to disturb and is unreasonably loud for the environment.
- The Use of Offensive Language: Offensive or provocative language in a public space can be considered a disturbance of the peace, regardless of volume.
Individuals can be charged with disturbing the peace for engaging in any of these activities. The penalties for a conviction for PC 415 can be severe. The Simmrin Law Group can help you learn more about how the court system prosecutes violations of PC 415. You can also schedule a free consultation with a representative of our legal team to learn more about your rights and begin preparing your legal defense.
Legally Defining California Penal Code §415: Disturbing the Peace
There are three major types of disruptive activity restricted by PC 415. Individuals may face criminal charges for disturbing the peace by:
Individuals who challenge another person to a fight or actually fight can be charged with disturbing the peace. The fight or challenge must occur in a public place for a PC 415 violation to occur. Acting to defend yourself or another person does not constitute a PC 415 violation.
Making Loud and Unreasonable Noise
PC 415 forbids individuals from making unreasonable amounts of noise for malicious reasons. This noise must occur along with a clear risk of violence. Individuals could also be charged with disturbing the peace if they are making noise to disrupt the lawful activities of others.
Using Offensive Language
Individuals use offensive language if they say something that will likely lead to a violent response. Anytime someone says something that will likely cause someone else to react violently while in public, a PC 415 charge can be used.
Note that, when discussing disturbing the peace, offensive language does not necessarily mean profanity. Anything that can spur another person to violent rage can be considered offensive language.
Disturbing the Peace: Examples
The following examples show individuals who are disturbing the peace:
Person A gets angry while out at a bar. He takes offense at the way Person B looks at him and grows belligerent. He hits Person B, starting a fight in the public bar.
Person C gets bored and goes to sit at the local bus stop. While there, he yells at people passing on the road, trying to figure out what will make them angry. He eventually provokes Person D, who becomes violently enraged.
Penalties for a Conviction Under PC 415
Depending on the circumstances surrounding a charge of disturbing the peace, an individual could be accused of:
- An Infraction
- A Misdemeanor
Infractions are not considered criminal offenses in courts around Los Angeles. This means that an individual facing an infraction would have to pay a small fine to resolve the issue, typically $250 or less.
Misdemeanor disturbing the peace charges are more serious and will appear on your criminal record after a conviction unless they are later expunged. A misdemeanor conviction can lead to:
- Jail Time: Up to 90 Days
- Fines: Up to $400
Note that individuals may face other penalties if they are charged with acts related to disturbing the peace, including:
Additionally, violence provoked by individuals charged with disturbing the peace could lead to serious charges for assault and battery. Even the environment where the disruption takes place can be a factor in your case, as California Penal Code Section 415.5 sets specific penalties for disturbing the peace on school grounds.
Criminal Defenses for Individuals Accused of Disturbing the Peace
For many charges relating to disturbing the peace, the prosecution has to establish intent to disturb the peace. For example, you must be proven to have intentionally started or provoked a fight or maliciously caused the noise. Disturbing the peace with offensive language, however, simply requires evidence that words were inherently and reasonably likely to provoke aggression. Prosecutors must also establish that these actions took place in a public area.
With these burdens in mind, the defense can take many different routes to disprove the charges or lead to their reduction or dismissal. There are a number of defenses that can be effective in beating charges for disturbing the peace, including:
You Were Acting to Defend Yourself
Individuals accused of publicly fighting may be able to prove that they were only acting in self-defense. You are legally allowed to protect yourself and others in the Los Angeles area.
You Were Not Being Loud Maliciously
Individuals must be acting with ill-intent to be convicted under PC 415. If you are a naturally boisterous person who inadvertently disturbed others, you should not face a conviction for disturbing the peace.
You did Not Realize You Were Upsetting Anyone
The court considers offensive language to be words that infuriate other people. If you did not know you were making anyone angry, you may not be convicted of disturbing the peace.
You can contact a criminal defense lawyer in Los Angeles to discuss whether any of these defenses would be right for your situation:
You Can Speak With a Professional about Disturbing the Peace Charges
It can be difficult to know what to do next if you are charged under California Penal Code §415: Disturbing the Peace. Fortunately, you can contact the professionals at the Simmrin Law Group for immediate legal advice. You can reach us easily. Just call or complete our online contact form.
We provide individuals accused of disturbing the peace with a FREE initial case evaluation. Take the first step to fighting for your rights and preparing your defense with a free consultation with our California legal team.