- Have you or any of your loved ones recently been charged with disturbing the peace in New Orleans?
- Are you looking for a way to peacefully get yourself out of court and out of trouble?
- Are you aware of exactly what disturbing the peace really is and what the penalties you are liable to face are?
- Do you know of any attorney who can get you out of the case and protect your criminal record?
Well, you would find all the answers and more in this article.
What is disturbing the peace in New Orleans?
In this article, we will clearly delineate and fully explain everything that would lead you to get arrested for the crime of disturbing the peace. Yes, you heard that right, disturbing the peace is a crime in the laws of New Orleans and no court handles it with levity. Below are some of the situations that the laws regard as disturbing the peace:
- If you have engaged in a fistfight in a manner that alarms the public, you have committed the crime.
- If you have used any offensive language on anybody who isn’t illegally where they are or if you have called them by a name which is derisive in such a way that the public is alarmed, you have committed the crime.
- If you walk around drunk, high on some drugs, or intoxicated in any way and by any means that alarms the public, you have committed the crime.
- If you engage in any act of violence — it doesn’t have to be a fistfight — where three or more people are involved in such a way that the public is alarmed, you have committed the crime.
- If you organize any gathering anywhere which is not authorized or lawful, you have committed the crime.
- Displaying actions that are geared towards causing a commotion or leading to a change in the route of a burial. You have committed the crime as long as this action took place either one hundred and twenty minutes (2 hours) before or one hundred and twenty minutes (2 hours) after the event.
The above actions could most definitely land you in court and probably in prison if you’re not well defended by your attorney. This is why you shouldn’t be planning to settle for just any attorney. You must consider the kind of criminal attorney that you hire. A matter such as this one could land you in jail and take up some useful months of your life or make you pay sums which are unplanned for. The criminal defense attorneys at the Barkemeyer Law Firm regularly defend clients charged with Disturbing the Peace in New Orleans.
Disturbing the Peace by Fistic Encounter
One of the most common scenario supporting a disturbing the peace ticket in New Orleans is disturbing the peace by fistic encounter. This provision is in both the New Orleans Municipal Code as section (5) and Louisiana law as section (1). Police officers will often cite the defendant with this charge instead of simple battery if he believes both individuals consented to the fight. On the other hand, if the officer believes the defendant attacked the victim without the victim being an aggressor, the arrest would be for a battery.
Example of Disturbing the Peace by Fistic Encounter
It is Friday night at the Boot and it’s packed. Joe Smith just grabbed his Bud Light draft in a 16-ounce plastic cup that’s overflowing. He tries to meander through the crowd back to his friends. Another group of guys are horse playing causing one to bump into him and spill his beer a little on the guy who was horse playing, causing him to say “Hey watch out, Man!” The beer-holder, says to him, “You watch out!” After all, he’s not too happy about losing half his beer. So, they get to pushing, then decide to go outside to fight since the bouncer wasn’t having it inside. They go outside and wrestle around in the street for a few minutes, with nobody getting hurt. The cops show up and give them both a ticket for Disturbing the Peace because they were fighting in public. The officer tells them to go their separate ways. Unfortunately, now each one has a criminal record. This is where the criminal lawyer comes in.
Disturbing the Peace by Public Intoxication
This provision is found in the Louisiana statute under La RS 14:103(3) and as a separate statute of the New Orleans Municipal Code under Sec. 54-405. Disturbing the peace under this provision is simply being drunk in public or appearing in an intoxicated condition. Basically, an officer will make an arrest or detain an individual for this when they are so wasted that they pose a threat to themselves or to the public. The officer determines that if he left them there, they could potentially hurt someone or themselves. The arrestee may have been having a good time earlier in the evening, but things got overboard and now he’s in a bad spot to where someone could get hurt. The officer has to protect him and everyone else. The penalties are still the same for this provision of disturbing the peace or Public Drunkenness in New Orleans.
Disturbing the Peace with Offensive Words
Both the Louisiana and New Orleans statutes prohibit the use of offensive language in public. The New Orleans statute is more focused on prohibiting the use of threatening language that would make the victim feel like they are about to get harmed. Really, this is a simple assault under Louisiana law. The Louisiana Disturbing the Peace statute prohibits addressing any offensive, derisive, or annoying words to any other person who is lawfully in any street, or other public place; or call him by any offensive or derisive name, or make any noise or exclamation in his presence and hearing with the intent to deride, offend, or annoy him, or to prevent him from pursuing his lawful business, occupation, or duty. Officers often arrest people for shouting and cursing in public. Making a scene by threatening others will land someone a disturbing the peace by offensive language ticket.
What are the possible penalties for disturbing the peace in Louisiana?
If you have been ticketed for the crime of disturbing the peace in New Orleans, the following are some of the possible penalties that you will face under Louisiana State law:
- You would be fined an amount not more than one hundred dollars ($100).
- You would be imprisoned for a period of time, not more than ninety days (3 months).
- Sometimes, based on the gravity of the crime, you could be made to pay the fine and still serve the jail term.
Situations like this are not what you should leave to luck or in the hands of an attorney who doesn’t have the exact required experience to get you home free. Imagine meeting a judge who doesn’t really care for the fine but prefers that you stay in jail and serve the term for correctional purposes. That would dent your records and it doesn’t even matter if you only spent a few days there or that you were jailed for a crime as trivial as disturbing the peace.
What are the possible penalties for disturbing the peace in New Orleans?
The crime of Disturbing the Peace is also a New Orleans City Court law found in the Municipal Code. If a New Orleans City Police officer gives you the summons, you could be facing the charge under Section 54-403 which carries harsher penalties that the Louisiana state law. In New Orleans, you would be looking at a fine of up to $500 and/or jail time of up to 5 months. So, there is a big difference in the sentencing ranges based on who is prosecuting you.
How to Protect Your Criminal Record
After you have received a summons for Disturbing the Peace, the fact of that summons will be on your record. The next issue to deal with is how to prevent a conviction from getting on your record. It all depends on how we handle the case in court. The summons and/or conviction may be eligible to get cleaned off your record if the case is set up properly in the beginning. Not every conviction is eligible to be removed or expunged from your record. The process of filing an expungement is how to get your record cleaned up. Our focus for our clients charged with Disturbing the Peace is to have the case resolved in a way that they are then eligible for an expungement of the arrest and/or conviction if there even is a conviction.
Importance of Clean Criminal Record
It is ideal to have a clean criminal record for many reasons such as getting into higher education schools such as colleges and graduate schools, renting apartments, obtaining loans, employment, getting a professional license, etc. Even a charge like Disturbing the Peace will make the person seeing it wonder what your judgement is like. Your chances of getting that job start going down. Plus, you could end up having to explain why you got the charge which can never be a good thing. Therefore, do not just go and plead guilty to Disturbing the Peace in New Orleans. The fine or probation you receive are not the only penalties. The penalties are ongoing for the rest of your life due to your criminal record. Contact our Disturbing the Peace lawyers in New Orleans at 504-226-2299.
How Can I Beat a Disturbing the Peace Ticket in New Orleans?
To increase your chances at beating a disturbing the peace charge, you need to hire a New Orleans criminal defense attorney as soon as you get the ticket. Do not wait until after you go to court. The lawyers at the Barkemeyer Law Firm will:
- Appear in court on your behalf and enter a plea of not guilty, so you don’t have to come to court.
- Examine the police reports for inconsistencies and technical errors that could result in a reduced charge or dismissal of your case entirely.
- Review all the evidence that the prosecutor has against you such as witness testimony and search for weaknesses in that evidence.
- Negotiate for reduced charges or dismissal which may lead to smaller fines, less probation, and court fees.