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    Learn how Texas law defines disorderly conduct and how to protect your rights if you’re accused of the crime in Houston

    Disorderly conduct is a relatively minor criminal charge, but even a misdemeanor conviction can come with serious consequences. As such, these charges should be vigorously fought with the assistance of an experienced criminal defense lawyer.

    What is disorderly conduct?

    Disorderly conduct, also sometimes referred to as “disturbing the peace,” is one of those catch-all criminal charges that is subject to broad interpretation. 

    So, what constitutes disturbing the peace in Texas?

    Under Title 9, Chapter 42, Section 42.01 of the Texas Penal Code, disorderly conduct can include a wide range of disturbing conduct or disruptive behaviors, including:

    • Using “fighting words,” including abusive, vulgar, profane or indecent language that could incite a physical altercation
    • Using an obscene gesture that could incite a physical altercation
    • Using chemicals to produce an unreasonable or noxious odor
    • Threatening or verbally abusing another person
    • Making a sound that is unreasonable (above 85 decibels) in a public place or someone else’s private residence after being warned by a police officer
    • Fighting with another person
    • Firing a gun or displaying a gun to frighten another person (except under certain conditions, like at a shooting range)
    • Exposing genitals or other intimate body parts, also known as indecent exposure
    • Peeking into a motel room, bathroom, shower stall or private residence for lewd or illegal purposes

    Texas law defines “public place” broadly, including public school campuses, and it doesn’t require a police officer to witness the disorderly incident. 

    If it seems reasonable that a suspect violated a Texas disturbing the peace law, the police officer has the authority to issue a citation. This means that simply being found in the midst of a suspicious circumstance or location is often sufficient grounds for charging a suspect with disorderly conduct.

     What is the punishment for disorderly conduct in Texas?

    It’s not all that difficult to get charged with disorderly conduct. Loud parties, barroom incidents and other social occasions can easily erupt into disorderly behavior. 

    A typical disorderly conduct offense will result in a Class C misdemeanor conviction and a fine of no more than $500. Firing a gun in public is a Class B misdemeanor crime punishable by up to 6 months in jail and a fine of no more than $2,000. An offender may also be sentenced to probation if a gun was involved.

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    How do you beat a disorderly conduct charge in Texas?

    In Texas, several defenses may be used against a charge of disorderly conduct, depending on the circumstances of the case. Here are some common ones:

    • Self-defense or defense of others. You were acting reasonably to protect yourself or someone else from imminent harm.
    • Entrapment. Law enforcement unfairly induced you into committing the offense. This is a complex defense with a high burden of proof.
    • Procedural defenses. There were errors in your arrest or the handling of your case that violated your constitutional rights. This could lead to the charges being dismissed.
    • Provocation. You were provoked into the behavior by someone else’s unreasonable actions. This defense only applies in specific situations, such as when the provocation is significant and you react without undue delay.
    • First Amendment protection. Your actions were protected by your right to free speech, assembly or religion. However, these rights are not absolute and can be limited when they infringe on the rights of others or public safety.

    The specific defenses available to you will depend on the facts of your case. Consider consulting with an experienced attorney to understand which defenses might apply to your situation and how to present them effectively in court.


    Is it illegal to cuss in Texas?

    According to Texas law, while cursing itself is not automatically illegal, the context in which it’s done can make it a punishable offense if it’s deemed to provoke a disturbance or breach of peace in a public setting. 

    The law aims to maintain public order and decency, so whether cursing leads to legal consequences depends on the circumstances and the impact of the language used on public peace.

    What constitutes verbal intimidation in Texas?

    Texas law specifies that a person commits a disorderly conduct offense if they intentionally or knowingly abuse, embarrass or threaten another in a public place in a manner that could be considered obviously offensive. This includes using abusive, profane or vulgar language that tends to incite an immediate breach of the peace, as well as making offensive gestures or displays. 

    Verbal intimidation, under this context, could also extend to threats of harm or actions that provoke fear in others, further illustrating the state’s commitment to maintaining public order and decency.

    Can intimidation be considered harassment in Texas?

    In Texas, intimidation can indeed be considered harassment if it involves behavior that is intended to threaten, abuse, annoy, alarm, torment or embarrass someone, as defined under Texas Penal Code Section 42.07, which addresses harassment. 

    The law specifies various forms of conduct that can constitute harassment, including repeatedly calling or sending communications in a manner that is likely to harass or making a false report to someone that a person has suffered death or injury, among other actions designed to harass or alarm an individual. 

    Therefore, if intimidation involves such actions, especially if they’re repeated or carried out with the intent to cause psychological harm or fear, it can legally be classified as harassment in Texas, potentially leading to criminal charges depending on the severity and nature of the behavior.

    Charged with disorderly conduct in Houston? Attorney Matt Sharp can help!

    A criminal record can limit a defendant’s access to desirable employment and educational opportunities, making it crucial to mount a strong defense against disorderly conduct charges. If you’re facing charges for disturbing the peace or disorderly conduct in Texas, contact experienced criminal defense attorney Matt Sharp at The Law Office of Matthew D. Sharp today. 

    Matt can evaluate your case, guide you through the legal process, and develop a strategic defense tailored to your specific situation. With a deep understanding of Texas law and a commitment to protecting the rights of his clients, Matt will work tirelessly to seek a favorable outcome, whether that means fighting for a case dismissal, negotiating reduced charges, or representing you at trial.

    Contact The Law Office of Matthew D. Sharp today for a free consultation.