About Being Charged With Disturbing The Peace in Massachusetts

Boston Misdemeanor Crimes Defense Attorneys

Disturbing the peace is a crime against public order and it is a misdemeanor crime. In order to obtain a conviction for disturbing the peace the prosecution must show that the defendant (1) engaged in disruptive behavior that a reasonable persona would find reasonably disruptive (2) the defendant acted intentionally (3) the defendants conduct took place in or near a public place (4) the defendant infringe on the right of one person to live undisturbed.

Screaming and tossing beer bottles on a public sidewalk in a suburban community at 11:00 p.m. would likely be considered disturbing the peace. Throwing objects and shouting insults at people outside a bar at 12:00 a.m. might also be considered disturbing the peace.

However, making statements or expressing opinions or beliefs no matter how unpopular or distasteful never constitutes disturbing the peace because this form of speech is protected by the First Amendment. Any speech unaccompanied by disruptive conduct that isn’t threatening or that doesn’t constitute “fighting words” can never be grounds for an arrest of disturbing the peace.

Punishment for a conviction of Disturbing the Peace

  • 1st Offense: fine of not more than $150
  • 2nd Offense: imprisonment in a jail or house of correction for not more than 6 months, or by a fine of not more than $200, or by both such fine and imprisonment.

Being Arrested For Disturbing The Peace

Disturbing the peace is a very broad charge and many types of conduct could warrant an arrest for disturbing the peace. A police officer can exercise his or her discretion when deciding whether or not to make an arrest for disorderly conduct. Often police don’t have all the facts at the time of an arrest. Often times we are able to present the officer and prosecutor with additional facts that weren’t available to the officer at the time of the arrest which, if known to the officer would have led him not to make the arrest.

If these facts aren’t present then we will hold the prosecution to their duty to establish that the conduct for which the defendant was arrested served no legitimate purpose. Often times police can be quick to arrest someone that is giving them some lip. However, it is your constitutional right to exercise your free speech and a few disparaging remarks made to a police officer may well be within your right to make.

Brockton MA Disturbing The Peace, Misdemeanor Defense Lawyer

The criminal defense lawyers of The Noonan Defense Firm take our clients’ criminal charges very seriously. Attorney Noonan was an Assistant District Attorney for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for many years. He has criminal trial experience on both sides of a criminal case, which is invaluable when you are looking for an attorney to represent you.

No matter where you are located in Southeast Massachusetts, we are just a phone call away. Call us to schedule a free no-obligation case review and consultation at (508) 584-6955 and you will have taken your first step to find out how best to confront this important matter. You can also click here to use our Free Case Evaluation Form.

Our knowledgeable and experienced Massachusetts Disturbing the Peace Attorneys at The Noonan Defense Firm are available to assist clients throughout all of Massachusetts, including but not limited to Plymouth County including Brockton, Plymouth, Bridgewater, Hingham, Wareham, Middleboro; Norfolk County including Quincy, Stoughton, Dedham, Weymouth, Braintree, Randolph, Canton, Sharon, Brookline, Franklin; Bristol County including New Bedford, Fall River, Taunton, Wrentham, Attleboro, Mansfield, Easton, Raynham; and Middlesex County including Cambridge, Lowell, Somerville, Newton, Woburn, Framingham, Malden, Chelsea, Everett, Arlington, Medford and Waltham; Cape Cod, Barnstable, Falmouth and Worcester; Essex County including Lynn, Lawrence and Salem; and the Greater Boston area including South Boston, Revere, Dorchester and Roxbury.