Protest photo

Protests are a big part of the headlines these days. One of the charges that can be levelled against protesters and other citizens by law enforcement is disturbing the peace.

Disturbing the peace is a criminal offense that occurs when a person engages in some form of unruly public behavior such as fighting or causing extremely loud noises.

The charge is quite similar to disorderly conduct and is found in the same Maryland statute that describes disorderly conduct. Both disorderly conduct and disturbing the peace are commonly charged crimes.

Broad range of activities

An Ocean City or Baltimore charge of disturbing the peace is broad and quite a number of behaviors fall into this category. In one Southern town, a man was arrested for disturbing the peace because his neighbors couldn’t take his lawn mowing. If you enter the property of another or make unreasonably loud noises the charge will probably be disturbing the peace rather than disorderly conduct. Unlawful assembly, riot, forcible entry and detainer, disturbance of public assemblies and malicious mischief can also lead to a charge of disturbing the peace. So, in an Ocean City or Baltimore charge of disturbing the peace, there is often an element of creating a public disruption.

It should be noted that simply engaging in horseplay or accidentally bumping into someone probably won’t lead to a disturbing the peace charge.

In 2015, Ocean City, Maryland decided to focus on enforcing the state laws regarding disorderly conduct and disturbing the peace and town officials proposed an ordinance requiring that businesses on the oceanside town’s main streets install signs warning residents and visitors there were state laws against disorderly conduct and disturbing the peace and that the laws would be strictly enforced, according to a news report.

Penalties for disturbing the peace

Maryland’s law on disturbing the peace is listed under “crimes against public health, conduct and sensibilities.”

In most instances, a charge of disturbing the peace is a misdemeanor and if there is a conviction, you are subject to imprisonment not exceeding 60 days or a fine of up to $500 or both.

Fines are common in disturbing the peace charges and judges will often order a sentence of “time served” which means the court credits the time already spent in jail to the jail term you are ordered to serve.

What does a prosecutor have to prove?

In general, a prosecutor has to prove that you intended to perform certain acts and that those acts would likely lead to disturbing the public, provoking violence or causing a disturbance.

Bargaining the charge down

If you are charged with a more serious crime such as battery stemming from a fistfight along with disturbing the peace, an Ocean City disturbing the peace lawyer can get the charges bargained down to the lesser offense of disturbing the peace in many instances.

An Ocean City disturbing the peace lawyer can help you with your criminal charge. An experienced Ocean City disturbing the peace attorney can go over the facts of your case to determine the best defense. The consultation is free. The Law Office of Thomas J. Maronick is open during the pandemic and will continue to meet your Ocean City and surrounding areas, Baltimore city and Baltimore county legal needs. We can meet with you remotely if you have access to Zoom. You can contact Thomas Maronick on his cellphone at 410-885-1775, the law office at 410-885-1775 or via our website for a free consultation.