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California Disorderly Conduct Laws

California Disorderly Conduct Laws

Laws defining disorderly content differ among municipalities and states, and the conduct encompassed in these ordinances and laws are broad. Disorderly conduct can also be labeled in other terms, such as a breach of the peace or disturbing the peace. In essence, it’s any behavior that can cause alarm, annoyance, or anger in other people or lead to an increased likelihood of unlawful activity engagement. In California, according to Penal Code 647, the following are ways to get charged with disorderly conduct.

Acts Considered Disorderly Conduct in California

Unlawful Loitering or Lodging

In California, individuals cannot lodge or live in a public or private building without the owner’s permission. Therefore, any individual found guilty of so doing could face a disorderly conduct charge.

Improper Sexual Conduct

This can consist of any of the following:

    • Invading someone’s privacy by recording them or peeping on them while they are in a dressing or bathroom in order to get sexual pleasure.
    • Loitering near or in a public toilet area intending to engage in or soliciting lewd acts or unlawful acts from others. 
    • Engaging in or soliciting acts of prostitution. 
    • Soliciting or engaging in another person’s immoral or lewd behavior in either a place that’s exposed to the public or in a public place.

Disorderly And Drunk Behavior

This is by far the most common reason behind a disorderly conduct charge. It is illegal to be in public when intoxicated from drugs, alcohol, or other controlled substances and unable to exercise care for others and yourself.


This topic has been all over the news of late and is a prime example of a disorderly conduct charge. It is illegal to take part and/or start a riot and doing so is considered a crime. Individuals participating in riots can also be held financially responsible in a civic court for any property damage their actions caused during a riot.

Using Offensive Language, General Noisiness, Fighting

Challenging or fighting someone in public is illegal in the great state of California. So too is intentionally disturbing others by making loud noises. In addition, it is illegal to use offensive words in public, especially when those words are intended to provoke violence.

Failure to Disperse

Assembling in a group with the goal of disturbing the peace and then refusing to move along or disperse when asked by legal authorities can lead to a disorderly conduct charge.

Disturbing The Peace (School Campus)

Anyone who is not a student cannot hang out on a college campus and use offensive language, fight, or be unreasonably loud.

What if I was charged with disorderly conduct in California?

A disorderly conduct charge is considered a misdemeanor and is punishable by a fine of $2,000 and up to 12 months in jail (or both). Penalties will increase if a person has more than one disorderly conduct charge. If you or someone you love are facing a disorderly conduct charge in California, call Premier Criminal Defense at (619) 439-0281 about a no-cost case evaluation. Let us fight for your rights!