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Disorderly Conduct, Failure to Obey a Lawful Order, and Disturbing the Peace

Disorderly Conduct, Failure to Obey a Reasonable and Lawful Order, Disturbing the Peace, and Obstructing or Hindering Passage are types of disorderly conduct in Maryland, all punishable under the same statute. These Maryland charges are misdemeanors, with a maximum sentence is 60 days of imprisonment and a $500 fine.

Disorderly conduct, disturbing the peace, and failure to obey a reasonable and lawful order charges are sometimes misused by police officers dissatisfied with your behavior as a way to make contempt of cop a crime, even though Maryland has no such offense.

There are multiple disorderly conduct and disturbing the peace offenses, with overlapping definitions. If you are charged with any disorderly conduct offense, you will often be charged with more than one at a time.

I have a lot of experience with these cases. As your lawyer, I can help you get these charges dismissed or beat them at trial. Call me at (301) 556-8709 today so that we can start winning your case.

Disorderly Conduct

Because the Maryland Disorderly Conduct statute, CR § 10-201, appears to include much more than it actually does, you may have been arrested for completely legal behavior. The statute is both broad and vague, saying that you may not “willfully act in a disorderly manner that disturbs the public peace.” As written, the exercise of your constitutional right to free speech might seem to violate the law. In fact, many of the actions that appear to be prohibited by the disorderly conduct statute are protected by the United States Constitution and the Maryland Declaration of Rights. To deal with this problem, appellate courts in Maryland have interpreted the law narrowly in order to preserve the rights of the public. Unfortunately, the police are often unaware of these distinctions, and instead charge people with disorderly conduct that do something that seems disorderly to the officer. In practice, this means that you may be unlawfully arrested for any behavior that the officer does not like. Acting in a disorderly manner actually means doing that which tends to incite others, possibly to violence or riot.

Failure to Obey a Reasonable and Lawful Order

The disorderly conduct statute requires the public to obey certain orders given by a police officer. These orders must be reasonable, lawful, and given to prevent a disturbance of the public peace. Many orders given by police officers are not covered by the statute, either because they are not meant to prevent a disturbance to the public peace, because they are unreasonable, or because they are otherwise unlawful. However, officers sometimes charge people with this crime when they do not do what the officer says, even if the order given by the officer is not a subject of the statute.

Failure to Obey a Reasonable and Lawful Order may be abbreviated on your Maryland criminal citation as “fail obey renble/lawfl”. It is the same crime, despite the abbreviation.

Disturbing the Peace

Disturbing the peace in Maryland basically means making extremely loud noises that disturb others. Due to the circuitous and overlapping way that the Maryland disorderly conduct statute is written, disturbing the peace could mean one of three things. It could mean that you are alleged to have acted in a disorderly manner that disturbs the public peace. It could also mean that you are accused of making an unreasonably loud noise, either from someone else’s land, or from any location whatsoever. Disturbing the peace is also confusingly written on citations as part of other charges even though those charges do not actually have disturbing the peace as an element of the offense.  Irrespective of what type of disturbing the peace citation you receive, I can defend you.

Obstructing or Hindering Passage

In Maryland, unlawfully obstructing or hindering the passage of another in a public place or on a public conveyance is considered a form of disorderly conduct and is punishable by up to 90 days in jail and a $500 fine.

A public place is any place a portion of the public has the right to go to for any lawful purpose. It includes public streets, shopping centers, stores, churches, schools, parks, and almost anything excluding specifically private areas.

A public conveyance is any sort of method of transportation that the public has access to and a right to use. It includes airplanes, boats, vehicles, trains, and subways.

A Maryland obstructing or hindering passage charge may be abbreviated on your citation as “disturb peace hinder passg”. It means obstructing or hindering the free passage of another in a public place or on a public conveyance. Oddly, despite the confusing abbreviation, disturbing the peace is not an element of the crime.

If you are charged with any sort of disorderly conduct offense, be it failure to obey a reasonable and lawful order, disturbing the peace, hindering passage, or disorderly conduct, you need to consult with a lawyer as soon as possible. I have the experience in these matters necessary to help you navigate the complexities of these charges and mount an effective defense. Call (301) 556‑8709 today, because your freedom is important.