Disorderly conduct is any number of things in California, including public intoxication, lewd conduct, assaulting another for the purpose of begging or soliciting alms, disturbing another by loud and unreasonable noise, and even using offensive words.
These criminal charges may sometimes have their place. Too often, however, they are used by police officers simply to crack down on conduct they disfavor, including perfectly lawful conduct like panhandling, peaceful political protests, and picket lines. Part of a criminal defense attorney’s job is to remind those enforce our laws where to draw the line. When a person is arrested for disorderly conduct, it’s often an opportunity to protect our rights against heavy-handed and overzealous policing.
It’s not against the law to be drunk in public. It IS against the law to be so intoxicated or high that you are unable to take care of yourself or interfere with others’ use of the street. If someone else is helping you get home you are not guilty of public intoxication. (You are taking care of your safety and well being.) In addition, the police should try to place you in civil protective custody — the drunk tank — rather than press charges and jail you.
For a free consultation about disorderly conduct or similar charges, please contact Alanna D. Coopersmith at (510) 628-0596.