One of the most common, and in in our opinion, wrongfully charged domestic violence crimes is disorderly conduct. However well intentioned law makers were when they wrote this law, it is doubtful they understood how law enforcement would apply this law to couples or family members in the domestic setting.
The sad reality is that police officers, lacking common sense and discretion, commonly cite disorderly conduct domestic violence when called to the location of a disagreement between couples or family members. As is common in disagreements, voices are raised and words are exchanged. This is life. Few would think that this is illegal. Unfortunately, here in Arizona, this is not the case. Arizona law criminalizes the common domestic spat. One or both parties can, and often are, charged with disturbing the peace of the other on the grounds that they made unreasonable noise with the intent to disturb the other party.
The everyday language for this is that you yelled at your wife, husband, brother, sister, etc. Arguments happen. People get mad at each other for various reasons. This is normal behavior which should not be illegal. Every married couple has arguments. Unfortunately, the strict interpretation of Arizona law also makes everybody who has gotten into a disagreement with another and yelled at them, a criminal.
The worst of it, however, is not that a person gets charged with disorderly conduct. The much more damaging part is that because the offense is alleged to have occurred in the domestic setting, the accused is also charged with domestic violence. What is nothing more then a verbal disagreement becomes a "violent offense" which can profoundly impact the accused future. Because of this, those accused of domestic violence disorderly conduct should seek the immediate advise and help of a qualified criminal defense lawyer.
Arizona law makers have defined disorderly conduct as follows:
13-2904. Disorderly conduct; classification
A. A person commits disorderly conduct if, with intent to disturb the peace or quiet of a neighborhood, family or person, or with knowledge of doing so, such person:
- Engages in fighting, violent or seriously disruptive behavior; or
- Makes unreasonable noise; or
- Uses abusive or offensive language or gestures to any person present in a manner likely to provoke immediate physical retaliation by such person; or
- Makes any protracted commotion, utterance or display with the intent to prevent the transaction of the business of a lawful meeting, gathering or procession; or
- Refuses to obey a lawful order to disperse issued to maintain public safety in dangerous proximity to a fire, a hazard or any other emergency; or
- Recklessly handles, displays or discharges a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument.
B. Disorderly conduct under subsection A, paragraph 6 is a class 6 felony. Disorderly conduct under subsection A, paragraph 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 is a class 1 misdemeanor.