The California Penal Code 415 PC is commonly called Disturbing the Peace or Breaching the Peace. A person may be guilty of this if he or she participates in unlawful fighting or challenges another person to fight in a public place, maliciously and willfully tries to disturb another person with loud and unreasonable noise and uses offensive language in a public place that is likely to provoke an immediate and violent reaction from another person.
Some of the behavior that could be called disturbing the peace is instigating a fight with another person in a restaurant or bar, playing loud music with the intention of disturbing neighbors and using ugly racial slurs to a person of a different ethnicity and continuing to repeat the slur even if the person becomes angry and threatens to fight you.
The penalties for violating the peace depend on the circumstances of the event. Prosecutors can make a misdemeanor charge or something less serious called an infraction. The maximum possible penalties are:
• A $400 fine
• Up to 90 days in jail
• Both a find and jail time
Since the legal definition of disturbing the peace is a bit vague, it is easy for an attorney to defend against this charge and not easy for prosecutors to prove. If you are charged with disturbing the peace, it is to your advantage to call us to discuss your case. We’ll do our best to help you avoid conviction. Some of the ways in which we help defend you are to convince the court that you did not have criminal intent. Your behavior may also have been constitutionally protected. Even if you are charged with a violation, you may have been falsely accused.
Disturbing the peace is also a charge that is used as a plea bargain. In this case, you would like to avoid a criminal record because it could have serious consequences on your employment possibilities or, in some cases, immigration status. For example, if you are charged with another offense such as public intoxication or urination, criminal threats, trespassing, resisting arrest, prostitution, and, in some cases, minor shoplifting, we will do our best to resolve it in a charge of disturbing the peace.
If you are charged with an infraction and you plead no contest, it is not considered a criminal offense, it is a civil offense. In this case, the penalty is usually a fine that you pay to the court clerk’s office. You can also agree to earn an infraction by performing community service, attending alcohol or drug rehabilitation meetings or other things. After the tasks are completed, the charge can be reduced to an infraction.
If you are convicted twice of disturbing the peace and if the event took place on school property, there is a mandatory minimum jail sentence of 10 days to six months plus a $1,000 fine. If you are convicted three times, the jail time is longer. Being convicted of disturbing the peace, it is a criminal conviction and the maximum penalty is possible. However, we can plea bargain for summary probation and no jail time.