I’ve been charged with disorderly conduct, what shall I do?
In Georgia, prosecutors use disorderly conduct charges for a wide variety of conduct. Most city law, as well as the state law provide for disorderly conduct as a criminal offense. Depending on whether the charge is under the city or state law, punishment can range from a fine, as well as 6-12 months in jail.
Under Georgia law, disorderly conduct can be prosecuted in the following instances:
(1) If you act in a violent manner that places another in fear for their safety; (2) If you act in a violent manner that places someone in fear you will damage or destroy their property; (3) Using fighting words; and (4) If you use obscene language in the presence of someone under 14 years old that threatens an immediate breach of the peace. O.C.G.A.§ 16-11-39
The following are some acts commonly seen in disorderly conduct cases:
• Abusive or obscene language
• Excessive noise in public places
• Physical attacks
• Obstruction of traffic
There are many constitutional challenges to disorderly conduct with regards to freedom of speech. To ensure that there are no violations of First Amendment free speech constitutional rights, the courts must narrowly define “fighting words” when applying the disorderly conduct statute as a charge. In re L. E. N., 299 Ga. App. 133, 682 S.E.2d 156 (2009)
What are fighting words?
“Fighting words” are defined as “those words by which their very utterance tend to incite an immediate breach of the peace.” The Supreme Court of Georgia has categorized “fighting words” with profane, libelous, lewd, and obscene language; they all have in common the characteristics of injuring or offending a particular audience and tending to provoke a retaliatory response. This language does not constitute protected speech under the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution or under Art. Knowles v. State, 340 Ga. App. 274, 797 S.E.2d 197 (2017)
If a statement does not constitute fighting words or threaten an immediate breach of the peace, then the statement does not rise to the level of disorderly conduct. Crolley v. State, 182 Ga. App. 2, 354 S.E.2d 864 (1987)
Is disorderly conduct a felony or misdemeanor?
Any person who commits the offense of disorderly conduct shall be guilty of a misdemeanor. O.C.G.A.§ 16-11-39 (b)
What shall I do if I’m charged with a Disordely Conduct?
If you or someone you know has been charged with disorderly conduct, give Bixon Law a call. We have assisted many clients in resolving their disorderly conduct charge. At Bixon Law, we devote 100% of our time to helping our clients fight criminal law matters. Don’t take your case to an attorney that specializes in everything, here we specialize in one thing and that’s Criminal Defense. Call us 24/7 at (404) 551-5684.