The law can seem extreme, but it is the law. It is important to know the legal restrictions on misconduct in your area. What you may consider petty mischief, the law could define as a misdemeanor—or worse. You may not realize that in Arizona, hosting a loud house party at night in a residential neighborhood or participating in some rowdy carousing at a bar can lead to a disorderly conduct charge with serious consequences.

What qualifies as disorderly conduct?

According to Arizona law, disorderly conduct can be charged when a person intentionally disrupts the peace either in public or a private neighborhood. “Disturbing the peace” can encompass a wide range of behaviors. Here are a few acts of mischief that can get you in big trouble:

  • Fighting or violence
  • Extreme noise
  • Provoking another person to potential violence with offensive language or gestures
  • Disrupts the setting of a business or meeting
  • Refusal to disperse when ordered by law enforcement to do so, in the case of a protest
  • Reckless handling or discharge of a dangerous instrument or weapon

While most of the above actions can result in a class 1 misdemeanor charge, disorderly conduct involving a dangerous weapon warrants a class 6 felony charge. The punishments for a felony are considerably greater.

Penalties for a class 1 misdemeanor

If you are convicted of disorderly conduct, it is most likely going to result in a class one misdemeanor on your record. The consequences of a misdemeanor can be up to six months imprisonment, depending on the judge’s decision regarding the severity of the offense.  You can also incur a hefty fine of up to $2,500 and up to three months of probation.

Penalties for a class 6 felony

If your disorderly conduct charge involved mishandling or discharge of a dangerous weapon, you could be subject to a class 6 felony. Although this is the least serious of felony charges in Arizona, it remains on your record and will appear in any background check. The penalty for a class 6 felony is jail time from six months to a year, with potential for more time if the assault was particularly violent and classified as “aggravated.” You can also incur fines and probation.

If you or a loved one is facing a disorderly conduct charge, it’s important that you get proper representation in order to defend your actions. A misdemeanor conviction is a serious enough obstacle in life—a felony charge will be even harder to move forward from.