The 4th of July is a holiday where people like to get loose and have fun. For many people, that means partaking in alcohol with friends and family.
While it’s certainly not illegal to drink too much over a holiday in Minnesota, there are certain behaviors in public that are against the law. If you participate in them, whether you’re drunk or not, you could get slapped with a disorderly conduct charge.
Here’s what you need to know about disorderly conduct charges in Minnesota and the types of actions that can lead to these charges.
Behaviors Prohibited Under Minnesota Law
Under their statutes, Minnesota makes prohibited behaviors very clear, such as:
This includes behavior such as: unreasonably or intentionally being annoying, endangering the safety, morals, or health of others, endangering or injuring others, or obstructing/interfering with public waters or highways.
This includes actions such as: disturbing a lawful assembly, fighting, being abusive, offensive, or using obscene or offensive language in a public setting that arouses alarm or anger.
You can also get in trouble legally if you permit others to maintain public nuisance or disorderly conduct on your property. This also applies if you are a caregiver who engages in disorderly or offensive conduct toward vulnerable adults.
The only exceptions to the laws prohibiting this conduct are those who display disorderly conduct caused by a neurological condition like epilepsy.
Basically, any language or behavior that provokes others to become upset, violent, disturbed, or angry is against the law. It doesn’t affect the charge if it’s perpetrated while intoxicated, since it is not illegal to be drunk in public in Minnesota.
Penalties for Disorderly Conduct
In most cases, disorderly conduct is a misdemeanor. A conviction can result in as many as three months in jail and fines of as much as $1,000.
If it’s a first offense, and there’s no previous criminal history, then chances are the person who perpetrated the disorderly conduct will not spend any time in jail. For first-time offenders, fines and community service are common and probation is almost always required as well.
When on probation, you cannot commit additional offenses, no matter how minor. If you do, you may end up serving time in jail.
If alcohol or drugs formed part of your disorderly conduct charge, it’s possible that the court will require you to take classes and undergo drug screenings as a component of your probation.
Penalties for Caregivers
The penalties associated with caregivers found guilty of disorderly conduct are much more serious. This is because these cases often involve a vulnerable adult.
Caregivers are defined as those individuals or facilities responsible for a vulnerable adult’s care.
If a caregiver is found guilty of disorderly conduct, they can face up to one year in jail and fines of as much as $3,000.
Fighting Back Against Disorderly Conduct Charges in Minnesota
Disorderly conduct charges are common but can be difficult for the prosecution to prove. That’s because the prosecution has to show that you reasonably knew your behavior would anger, alarm, disturb, or upset others – or provoke violence.
The circumstances of what happened leading to the charges must be taken under advisement. Sometimes, adding context could result in a more positive outcome for you.
Other common defenses used in disorderly conduct charges include:
This defense has not had a lot of success in Minnesota. However, it could be worth a try, since part of disorderly conduct involves offending people. Free speech can be engaged as a defense to determine what exactly was offensive.
After all, you are guaranteed free speech by the Constitution, and you should be able to say things you want—unless they are considered to be fighting words that provoked another.
You Were Provoked
Depending on the situation of your case, it’s possible that your disorderly conduct was provoked by others, such as the police. Arguing with a police officer, for example, can be seen as disorderly conduct, but simply refusing to comply with the police is not truly disorderly conduct.
Disorderly conduct can be a tricky charge. It’s so broad under the law in Minnesota that there’s a lot of room for interpretation – and a lot of opportunity for your attorney to help you resolve charges against you. Remember to respect the law when you’re out this 4th of July, but, if you are arrested for disorderly conduct, you have the right to fight it.
About the Author:
Christopher Keyser is an AV-Preeminent rated criminal and DWI defense attorney based in Minneapolis who is known for fighting aggressively for his clients and utilizing innovative tactics to get the most positive results. He has been featured in numerous media outlets due to the breadth and depth of his knowledge and named a Certified Specialist in Criminal Law by the Minnesota Bar Association. Mr. Keyers is Lead Counsel rated, and he has received recognition for his criminal law work from Avvo, Expertise, Super Lawyers, The National Trial Lawyers, and more.