Texas prides itself on having a good time, which can sometimes lead to charges of disturbing the peace. The state defines several actions that can constitute disturbing the peace—as such, building a solid criminal defense against these charges varies from case to case.
Criminal defense attorney Jason English spent 15 years as a prosecutor before turning to criminal defense law. Call the offices at Jason English Law, PLLC., at (512) 454-7548 for a free attorney consultation with a disturbing the peace lawyer in Austin, TX, and read more below about disturbing the peace in Texas.
How Does Texas Criminal Law Define Disturbing the Peace?
Disturbing the peace pertains to any language or action that interferes with another person's right to peace and tranquility. It usually must be loud, offensive, or dangerous. Some examples of disturbing the peace according to Texas law include:
- Using offensive words in public, especially to instigate violence
- Holding public assembly unlawfully
- Allowing a dog to continue barking excessively in a residential area
- Challenging someone to a fight or engaging in a fight in public
- Yelling to instigate violence or illegal activities in a public space
- Playing loud music at night after appropriate warnings
- Vandalism or trespassing
- Public intoxication
- Disturbing normal business operations
- Discharging a firearm in a public place
- Using stink bombs or another noxious chemical irritant
Disturbing the peace is often not a standalone charge. Many defendants face additional charges according to the specific actions committed. A knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer can explain each of your charges and help you build a defense against any criminal charges. Note that with multiple charges, you may receive a different decision for each during your case.
Will I Face Additional Criminal Charges?
You may face additional charges. Your defense attorney has probably experienced many criminal cases with additional charges once the police have time to collect evidence and determine any potential other wrongdoing.
If your disturbing the peace charge includes acts of violence, acts to incite violence, intoxication, or physical abuse, you will likely face additional charges. Your criminal attorney must build a defense against all charges if you intend to plead not guilty on all counts.
Can I Receive a Disturbing the Peace Charge Exercising My Constitutional Rights?
Police often use “disturbing the peace” as a reason to arrest Texans exercising their rights to peaceable assembly, free speech, gun ownership, and free press. The definitions of disturbing the peace are so broad and vague that police can arrest nearly anyone off the street for any reason they see fit.
Despite the law's flexibility in defining “disturbing the peace,” you should also know that operating outside your first or second amendment rights can give the prosecution an excellent position.
For example, the first amendment right of free speech protects you from government retaliation when speaking against the government. It does not protect you from prosecution for hateful, slanderous, defamatory, or violent speech against other private citizens or groups.
If you feel that you were arrested or charged with “disturbing the peace” while exercising your constitutional rights, contact an experienced criminal attorney right away.
Can My Disturbing the Peace Lawyer Defend Me if I Was Under the Influence?
You may face additional charges for public intoxication, DWI/DUI, or drunk and disorderly conduct. Your disturbing the peace lawyer can build a defense to suit your case, even with multiple criminal charges.
What Are the Punishments for a Disturbing the Peace Conviction?
The criminal justice system in Texas considers disturbing the peace a misdemeanor criminal offense. You and your criminal defense attorney might discuss plea deal options according to the details of your case. If you accept a plea deal with multiple charges, you may only have to plead guilty to disturbing the peace to drop a charge for public intoxication or vandalism for tagging a wall.
Penalties for a misdemeanor charge include:
- up to a year in jail
- up to six months probation
- up to $2000 in fines
- additional anger management treatment or substance abuse treatment, depending on the details of your case
Call the Criminal Defense Law Team at Jason English Law, PLLC.
For the guidance of a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney near Austin, TX, turn to the experienced team at Jason English Law, PLLC. With over 15 years as a prosecutor from 2002 to 2017, Attorney Jason English knows what to expect from the prosecution as he builds your defense arguments. At Jason English Law, PLLC., we focus on criminal defense for DUI/DWI, assault, disturbing the peace, and more.
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The information in this blog post (“post”) is provided for general informational purposes only and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information in this post should be construed as legal advice from the individual author or the law firm, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting based on any information included in or accessible through this post without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient's state, country, or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.