Disorderly conduct laws are in place to make unruly or obnoxious conduct illegal in public. These types of laws can include anything from disturbing the peace to public intoxication. Under Washington state law, disorderly conduct falls under the umbrella of a "public disturbance" and can arise out of many different situations and circumstances. Related offenses include criminal mischief, failure to disperse, and false reporting.
Abusive Language Defined
What is abusive language? This involves words used to offend people within hearing distance in a reckless disregard for them. Typically, offensive language is loud, coarse, or otherwise offensive. Let's say you're at a Seahawks game and start heckling San Francisco 49ers fans and a fight breaks out. It's possible you could be in violation of the law.
An Overview of Washington Disorderly Conduct Laws
There's no doubt that an important step of legal research is to read the actual language of applicable laws. Often times, however, laws are written in "legalese," which can take more time to interpret and understand. For this reason, it's helpful to read a summary of the laws in plain English. The following chart provides a brief overview of Washington disorderly conduct laws as well as links to relevant statutes.
Washington Revised Code Section 9A.84.030 (Disorderly Conduct)
The following is a violation of disorderly conduct laws in Washington:
- Using abusive language and intentionally creates a risk of assault;
- Intentionally disrupting any lawful assembly or meeting of persons without lawful authority;
- Intentionally obstructing vehicular or pedestrian traffic without lawful authority; or
- Fighting or making unreasonable noise within 500 feet of a funeral, wake, burial, or memorial service knowing that the activity adversely affects the funeral, wake, burial, or memorial service.
|Charges and Penalties
||Disorderly conduct is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 90 days in county jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000.
Washington Revised Code:
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.
Washington Disorderly Conduct Laws: Related Resources
If you'd like additional information and resources related to this topic, you can visit the links below.
Get Legal Help with Your Disorderly Conduct Case in Washington
On a scale of the seriousness of a crime, disorderly conduct would fall below other more serious crimes. However, being convicted of any crime can have an adverse impact on your life - especially on your professional life. Washington's criminal laws can also get complicated, particularly when it comes to disorderly conduct and your right to free speech. If you're facing allegations of disorderly conduct, consulting with an experienced criminal defense attorney can help you to protect your rights and to put your strongest defense forward.