Understanding Disorderly Conduct Charges in Illinois

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Understanding Disorderly Conduct Charges in Illinois

Depending on who you ask, the phrase “disorderly conduct” can mean a variety of things. However, the state of Illinois’ interpretation is the only definition that matters. Even more important to know? According to Illinois Statute 720 ILCS 5/26-1, disorderly conduct charges range from Class C Misdemeanors to Class 3 Felonies. If convicted, these charges stay on your record for life. Hiring a criminal defense attorney to help you fight a disorderly conduct charge is a very smart choice, no matter who you ask.

What counts as disorderly conduct?
As defined by Statute 720 ILCS 5/26-1, the following acts fall under the umbrella of disorderly conduct:

  • Disturbing the peace (see below for more details on what counts as disturbing the peace).
  • Pulling a fire alarm or calling the fire department when there is no fire.
  • Making fake bomb threats.
  • Threatening a school or persons inside a school with violence (even if school isn’t in session).
  • Phoning 9-1-1 when there is no emergency.
  • Calling for an ambulance when one is not needed.
  • Phony reports to the Department of Public Health.
  • Phony reports to the Department of Children and Family Services.
  • Walking onto someone’s property and watching them in their home without their permission (known as being a ‘Peeping Tom’).
  • Impersonating a collection agency.

This list is lengthy and diverse. Notice though, the common threads among these offenses are making false claims, causing unnecessary alarm, and invading privacy. Sentencing is just as varied and depends on the charge. Without the guidance of a criminal defense attorney, defendants run the risk of serving jail time or paying exorbitant fines for infractions.

Disturbing the peace
Purposefully vague, “disturbing the peace” includes just about everything from public urination to looting. Fighting in public, violently protesting, and even playing loud music could end up in a disturbing the peace violation.

Many factors contribute to these situations. Keep in mind, the prosecution must prove the defendant purposefully caused a disturbance that upset at least one other person. A good criminal defense attorney knows how to consider all the angles on these types of cases.

Unique disorderly conduct charges
Beyond disorderly conduct (720 ILCS 5/26-1), there is disorderly conduct at a funeral or memorial service (720 ILCS 5/26-6) and disorderly conduct with a laser or laser pointer (720 ILCS 5/26-7).

Disorderly conduct at a funeral or memorial service includes actions like blocking entrance to a funeral site or yelling loudly within 300 feet of a memorial service site, among other violations. Violators can be ticketed within 30 minutes of the event beginning or ending.

Disorderly conduct with a laser or laser pointer includes actions like aiming a laser pointer at a police officer or into the cockpit of an airplane during landing.

Penalties for disorderly conduct
The penalties for disorderly conduct have a wide range. Fines, community service, and jail time sentences depend on the type of infraction and whether this is the first time the defendant committed it. Often, completing between 30 and 120 hours of community service is added to a disorderly conduct sentence.

Class C Misdemeanor offenders receive up to 30 days in jail, a fine up to $1,500, or both.

  • Disturbing the peace.

Class B Misdemeanors can result in up to 180 days in jail, a fine up to $1,500, or both.

  • Phony reports to the Department of Public Health.

Class A Misdemeanors are more severe than Class B and Class C misdemeanors. They are punishable by up to one year in prison, up to a $2,500 fine, or both. Sometimes, probation is also tacked on.

  • Walking onto someone’s property and watching them in their home without their permission (known as being a ‘Peeping Tom’).

Class 3 Felony penalties include between two and five years in jail, up to $25,000 in fines, or both.

  • Making fake bomb threats. According to 720 ILCS 5/26-1, an additional $3,000 to $10,000 fine accompanies this transgression.

Class 4 Felony offenders face between one and three years in prison, up to $25,000 in fines, or both.

  • Pulling a fire alarm or calling the fire department when there is no fire.
  • Threatening a school or persons inside a school with violence (even if school isn’t in session). On top of Class 4 Felony punishments, the defendant may also have to pay for the emergency response team sent to the school.
  • Phoning 9-1-1 when there is no emergency. On top of Class 4 Felony punishments, the defendant may have to pay up to $10,000 for the emergency response team dispatched as a result of the phony call.
  • Phony reports to the Department of Children and Family Services.
  • Phony reports to the Department of Public Health.
  • Calling for an ambulance when one is not needed.
  • Walking onto someone’s property and watching them in their home without their permission (known as being a ‘Peeping Tom’). (After subsequent infractions)

The bottom line is, a disorderly conduct charge can mean many different things. If you or someone you know is facing a disorderly conduct or disturbing the peace charge, contact Richard at Fenbert & Associates, LLC for a free consultation.