What Constitutes Disorderly Conduct In Tennessee

One of the more common criminal offenses in Tennessee is disorderly conduct. While disorderly conduct may not be considered a serious crime, it is a class C misdemeanor. If Disorderly Conduct convicted, there are fines you will have to pay, it is punishable by up to thirty days in jail and the charges will result in a criminal record that will follow you for life.

In many cases, disorderly conduct involves fighting. What usually happens is that people who have a disagreement or have been drinking too much begin arguing, tempers begin to flare and fighting breaks out. This type of behavior can put people at risk of being injured, so it is therefore taken seriously by law enforcement. Another thing to keep in mind is that if you’re involved in a fight, you may be charged with assault in addition to disorderly conduct.

In the state of Tennessee the following behaviors would be considered disorderly conduct per Tennessee Code Annotated 39-17-3005:

  • Fighting or participating in tumultuous, threatening or violent behavior
  • Refusing to comply with lawful police orders to disperse when part of a group in a public place
  • Refusing to obey an official order to disperse issued to maintain public safety in dangerous proximity to a fire, hazard or other emergency
  • Unlawfully disturbing people meeting together in a lawful assembly
  • Creating a hazardous or physically offensive condition by any act that serves no legitimate purpose
  • Obstructing traffic, including pedestrian traffic and motor vehicle traffic
  • Making an unreasonable amount of noise that prevents others from carrying on lawful activities

With such a broad legal definition relying, in many cases, on the subjectivity of law enforcement, many public behaviors could be considered disorderly conduct. If you get into a verbal argument with a loved one, punch someone’s car, or use offensive, foul language in a loud manner, you can be arrested and charged. It’s also important to know that if you are angry or disrespectful with a police officer, odds are great they will charge you with being disorderly. If you continue to be disorderly during the process of an officer effecting an arrest, you can also be charged with resisting arrest.

Your best bet is to try and deesculate any conflict that may flare up, especially if you have been drinking.

If you’ve been charged with disorderly conduct, it’s important that you speak to a competent, experienced criminal defense lawyer to discuss your legal options. Contact attorney Donna Wagner to schedule your consultation.


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