As the home state of America's biggest city, New York is often witness to public protests, so much so that some news organizations even dedicate entire sections to protests around the city. However, protesters and even the journalists covering them are often susceptible to arrest for disorderly conduct even while exercising their right to peacefully assemble. A variety of other activities can also violate New York disorderly conduct laws, especially when committed with the intent to inconvenience or annoy the public or with reckless disregard to the risk of public harm.
When determining whether the nature of an accused person's conduct constitutes disorderly conduct, courts consider the extent to which the person's conduct annoyed others; whether it persisted after warnings by others or police; and whether it occurred in a public place.
New York Disorderly Conduct Laws At A Glance
For more information on New York's disorderly conduct laws, see the chart below.
Disorderly conduct requires the intent to cause public inconvenience, annoyance or alarm or to recklessly create such a risk and includes behavior such as:
- Engaging in fighting or violent, tumultuous or threatening behavior;
- Making unreasonable noise;
- Using abusive or obscene language or making obscene gestures in a public place;
- Unlawfully disturbing any lawful assembly or meeting;
- Obstructing vehicular or pedestrian traffic;
- Refusing to comply with a lawful police order to disperse when congregating in a public place;
- Creating a hazardous or physically offensive condition by an act which serves no legitimate purpose.
Disorderly conduct is a violation that can be punished by up to 15 days in prison or by a fine of up to $250.
Defenses to a charge of disorderly conduct can include:
- Infancy (persons less than 16 years old are not held criminal responsible for disorderly conduct)
- Justification (the conduct was required or authorized by law to avoid imminent injury to the public or private persons)
- Duress (the person was forced to perform the conduct against his or her will)
- Mental disease or defect
- NOTE: The rights to free speech and assembly are NOT a defense
Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
You can click on the links below to learn more information on related crime laws in New York.
Get Legal Help With Your New York Disorderly Conduct Case
While some forms of disorderly conduct, like bar fighting, are clear cut, there are times when it's not so clear, especially when it bumps up against the right to protest. Regardless of the reason for your arrest, if you've been charged with disorderly conduct, a criminal law attorney can advise you on your rights and whether the police may have overstepped their authority. An attorney can also be your strongest advocate in court. Get in touch with a New York defense attorney today.