Disturbing the Peace

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Disturbing the Peace

In California, a charge of disturbing the peace can result in imprisonment in county jail for up to 90 days, and a fine of up to $400. The experienced criminal defense team at Don Ho Law can help you to understand the charges against you, and will craft a passionate defense to protect your rights.

Disturbing the Peace: California Penal Code §415

A person can be prosecuted for disturbing the peace for doing any of the following:

  1. Fighting in a public place, or challenging another person to fight in a public place
  2. Making an unreasonable amount of noise
  3. Using offensive language in public

Disturbing the peace can be charged as either a misdemeanor or an infraction, making it what is known as a “wobblet.” This means that, depending on the circumstances of the case, the prosecutors can choose how to proceed. A misdemeanor is a criminal offense which can result in jail time and higher fines than an infraction. Because of these more severe penalties, it is essential to have a skilled criminal defense attorney at your side.

Making the Case:

Unlawful fighting

In order to convict you of disturbing the peace by unlawfully fighting, the prosecution will have to show that you deliberately fought another person in a public place, or that you deliberately challenged a person to fight in a public place. Don Ho Law is experienced in arguing the defenses to this charge, including self defense and defense of others. California law allows people to reasonably defend themselves or to defend others, so long as there is danger of bodily harm and your response used no more force than was necessary.

Unreasonable noise
For the prosecution to convict you of disturbing the peace by making an unreasonable amount of noise, they must show beyond a reasonable doubt that you made the noise maliciously and on purpose to disturb others. This means they must show that it was your intent to disturb others, and this can be difficult for them to prove because it requires that they show what you were thinking at the time. Don Ho understands how to argue the points necessary to defend you, and will make sure your rights are protected.

Offensive Language
A conviction for disturbing the peace by using offensive language requires that the prosecution prove that the words you used were likely to cause an immediate and violent reaction, and also that you spoke those words to a specific person or group of people in a public place. Most speech is protected by the U.S. Constitution, and Don Ho understands how to passionately argue the difference between “fighting words” and language that is protected by the First Amendment.

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