Understanding Disorderly Conduct in Illinois

Posted on July 3rd, 2020 by Danielle Giannola

Disorderly conduct is a criminal offense under Illinois law. It’s important to be aware of the disorderly conduct statute because it is so broad – it covers a wide variety of behaviors that many people wouldn’t necessarily think of as criminal. As always, consult an attorney if you’ve been charged with a crime. Giannola Legal LLC’s experienced criminal defense lawyers in Cook County, Illinois offer free consultations.

What is Disorderly Conduct?

Generally speaking, disorderly conduct is defined as any action that disturbs the peace by creating undue alarm, causing an annoyance, or invading the privacy of another. Examples of potential disorderly conduct include but are not limited to loitering, using obscene/vulgar language in public, bothering passersby, behaving erratically, being a “peeping Tom”, or making a false police report. Depending on the severity of the behavior, disorderly conduct may be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony.

But I don’t think I’m being disorderly! Who gets to decide if I’ve committed the offense of disorderly conduct?

The disorderly conduct statute is, ideally, meant to ensure people feel safe and secure while moving about in society. However, disorderly conduct is inherently subjective – what one person finds alarming or disturbing may not bother another person. Because the statute is so broad and subjective, it often acts as a “catch-all” law, allowing the State to punish behavior that doesn’t fit the criteria for any other criminal offense. Police officers who otherwise would have let you go with a warning may decide to make an arrest for disorderly conduct if they feel annoyed or disrespected by your actions or attitude. As such, always try to remain as calm and respectful as possible when dealing with police officers.

If you do find yourself charged with disorderly conduct, it’s always advisable to contact a lawyer like the experienced criminal defense lawyers in Cook County, Illinois, at Giannola Legal LLC. A knowledgeable attorney can counsel you on the best course of action and help you get the best possible outcome in your specific case.


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