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The charge of disturbing or breaching the peace is found under California Penal Code 415. This is a crime with multiple varieties of infraction.
A person can violate public peace law in several ways:
1. Fighting or challenging someone else to fight in a public area.
2. Willfully harassing another person with loud and unreasonable noise.
3. Using language that offends in public, particularly if designed to engage another in an altercation.
Such behavior may include the following:
Starting a fight in a bar or other public area.
Arguing with neighbors and then roaring up and down the street in a noisy vehicle with purpose to annoy, or turning up music so loudly as to disturb the neighbors.
Repeating a malicious comment or racial slur to another when a fight is imminent if the comment is repeated.
These behaviors cover the three-pronged jurisdiction of unlawful fighting, unreasonable noise and offensive language.
Some restraints on these charges are:
The fight or challenge occurred in a public place but you were defending yourself or another against eminent danger.
The noise disturbance attributed to you was unintentional.
The questionable words spoken by you were not reasonably believed to be offensive.
Other exemptions may include participating in a political protest with loud proclamations through a bullhorn or microphone or wearing a T shirt perceived to be offensive proclaiming your ideology or religion. With proper legal counsel, you may be able to present grounds of amendment-protected speech in these circumstances.
There are two kinds of penalties for disturbing the peace, infraction or misdemeanor. A judge will usually make the determination between the two based upon the defendant’s prior history of criminal behavior.
An infraction carries a fine of $250 maximum. You will not be required to go to jail.
If the judge convicts you of misdemeanor disturbance of the peace you may receive penalties of informal probation, a possible fine of $400 and up to 90 days in the county jail.
False accusations of disturbing the peace are common. These may include having an argument with a vengeful neighbor, being falsely accused of starting a physical altercation or being detained by a police officer who did not like your demeanor and decided to charge you with something.
Disturbance of the peace laws are primarily designed to protect the public from conduct that is disorderly or potentially violent. However, due to their ambiguity, they can also be used to harm innocent parties through the courts.
If you are charged with disturbing the peace you may call a Los Angeles criminal attorney today. A consultation will be provided for you and the lawyer to examine just what, if any, grounds the charge presents. The courts must prove that you maliciously and willfully caused a disturbance by unreasonable noise, using provocative language or engaging in a public fight in order to charge you will violation of Penal Code 415.
A los Angeles criminal defense lawyer is prepared to assist and defend you against disturbance of the peace charges.