Disturbing the Peace Lawyer in Travis County

From passionate conversations to shouted greetings loud enough to reach the other side of the street, public spaces in Texas are often buzzing with noise and activity. While law enforcement officers don't try to quiet lively, friendly interactions, they do issue disturbing the peace charges when people cross the line.

Disturbing the peace is usually a Class C misdemeanor, which is the least serious classification. However, you shouldn't sweep it under the rug. If convicted, the judge can fine you up to $500, and the conviction will become a part of your criminal record. Additionally, this is often accompanied by one or more additional charges, increasing the penalties.

Whether you were charged with a Class C misdemeanor or have additional charges, contact our Travis County disturbing the peace lawyer for a free consultation.

What Is Disturbing the Peace?

Texas has a long list of infractions that are charged as disturbing the peace. Some of the most common include knowingly or intentionally:

  • Using profane or vulgar language
  • Creating unreasonably loud noise
  • Exposing private parts or engaging in other lewd behavior
  • Dangerously displaying or discharging a firearm
  • Creating a noxious odor with chemicals

Determining the Intention

Even though the law outlines the behaviors that aren't allowed in public, it's still not black and white. Instead, it comes down to the intention behind the behavior. Let's take a closer look at this by using an example to illustrate intention.

First, let's say a small group is standing outside of a restaurant talking boisterously after their meal. One of the members of the group says a profane word to emphasize a point, and a police officer happens to walk by at that same moment. The police office won't charge the person with disturbing the peace since his intention was to joke around and have fun with his friends.

However, the same police officer walks a bit further and encounters a man making profane comments to a woman. The comments are clearly meant to get a rise out of her and embarrass her, and the man seems to be enjoying it. In this case, the intention is to offend her while making her feel unsafe. Also, the man is yelling loudly enough to ensure that everyone on the block can hear it, demonstrating the intention to make a disruptive scene.

This is a straightforward example, but real life is rarely like this.

Freedom of Speech and Disturbing the Peace

Freedom of speech is an important part of the country's identity. However, freedom of speech does not always apply. You can be charged with disorderly conduct if your words are profane, vulgar, abusive, or dangerous breaching the peace in public places.

This does not necessarily mean that you are guilty of a crime. If you didn't have bad intentions or don't feel you said anything against the law, you can stand up against the charges. Contact our Travis County disturbing the peace lawyer for a free consultation.

Public Intoxication and Disturbing the Peace

It's not unusual for police to charge people with disturbing the peace and public intoxication at the same time. If you have been convicted of one or a combination of those charges three times within a specified timeframe, you will face much harsher penalties this time. The judge can send you to jail for up to 180 days and fine you as much as $2,000. This is another reason why it's so important to take care of disturbing the peace violations at the time because they can add up and lead to serious penalties. If you need help with one or more charges, contact our firm. Our Travis County disturbing the peace lawyer will review your case and look for ways to dismiss, reduce, and defend the charges.

The Burden of Proof Is on the State

A criminal charge does not equal a conviction. The prosecution must prove its case against you, and that can be challenging. If the state does not have clear proof that you committed a crime, your Travis County disturbing the peace lawyer will likely take steps to dismiss the case. If successful, you can put it behind you. However, if the state won't back down, your attorney can take on the prosecution in court.