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Disorderly conduct laws in Virginia

You may hear the term "disorderly conduct" but not fully understand what it means. It is important to know that each state has its own laws about disorderly conduct. This means the definition and penalties are different in Virginia than another state. 

Knowing what constitutes disorderly conduct will not only help you to avoid committing the crime but also be ready to defend against any charges you may face for it. Here are some important facts to know about disorderly conduct in Virginia.

Laws and definitions

The Virginia penal code has an entire section that addresses offenses against peace and order. Disorderly conduct falls under this category and includes the following acts:

  • Engaging in conduct in a public place that reasonably provokes violence
  • Disrupting a school or school activity intentionally or while drunk
  • Disrupting a funeral or meeting of a government body, school, literary society or place of worship intentionally or while drunk

Causing public inconvenience, alarm or annoyance or creating a risk of violence is illegal according to this law.

Punishments

Violating the disorderly conduct law counts as a Class 1 misdemeanor. The maximums penalties include a fine of $2,500 and 12 months of jail time. The exact punishments vary depending on each case. 

Possible criminal defenses

If you face disorderly conduct charges, it does not necessarily mean you are guilty. You may be able to challenge the charges so you do not receive a conviction on your criminal record. One way to prove your innocence is by claiming the conduct is in a private setting instead of a public area. Another strategy is claiming self-defense in the case of fighting. Invoking your First Amendment right to free speech may also be applicable depending on the circumstances. 

Other laws

There are other offenses relating to disorderly conduct in Virginia, including riot and unlawful assembly, picketing of dwelling places, activities tending to cause violence and abusive and insulting language.

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Leesburg, VA 20176

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