Disorderly conduct laws are designed to be far-ranging and comprehensive. They ban behavior or activity that disrupts the general peace. The complainant, or “victim”, is society at large, rather than an individual. Common occurrences of breaking this statute include playing music too loud, false 911 calls, and public drunkenness. That said, there are dozens of activities banned under this statute in order to make society a calm and safe environment.
The umbrella legal definition for disorderly conduct is found under 720 ILCS 5/26-1(a)(1)
“When [an individual] knowingly does any act in such unreasonable manner as to alarm or disturb another and to provoke a breach of the peace.”
Though a disorderly conduct charge may seem trivial, many of the offenses listed under the statute are felonies, and all of the charges carry a minimum penalty of 30-120 hours of community service. In addition, a conviction will remain on your record, making it more difficult to secure a job, adopt a child, or rent an apartment. The consequences of having a criminal record, even for misdemeanors, can come back to haunt you in numerous ways. It is always best to consult legal counsel in order to protect your future and rights.
Disorderly conduct activities can be grouped into 5 categories: (1) breach of the peace, (2) false reports, (3) school threats, (4) invasion of privacy, and (5) debt collector harassment.
Especially under this category, the legal wording is intentionally kept vague, so that offenders can be prosecuted for a wide variety of activities, including ones not listed under the law. Common examples include:
This set of provisions is designed to prevent false calls, complaints, and alarms to any public agency. These provisions cover (in order of seriousness of offense):
Illinois places special importance on threats to school grounds, students, and school employees. Accordingly, false reports concerning the safety of schools are equally taken seriously, especially if the report involves bomb or firearm-related violence. The offense is a Class 4 felony.
Otherwise known as voyeurism or “Peeping Tom” activity, the invasion of privacy provision prevents individuals from spying on others for lewd or unlawful purposes. This may include looking through windows or other openings into private residences, but other cases involve the use of cameras in private spaces, for example bathrooms or locker rooms.
This offense is a Class A misdemeanor, although in many cases there are multiple victims. If an offender uses a camera to spy on 12 people in a locker room, he or she will be held responsible for 12 counts of the charge.
The debt collector provision has seen an increase in cases in recent years due to the economy and inability of individuals to pay their bills. To be clear, the defendant in this case would be the debt collection agency, not the person being contacted by that agency. Accordingly, this is considered a business offense because it is impractical and likely unjust to incarcerate an entire company for one count of harassment.
There are various punishments depending on the circumstances and type the offense. Disorderly conduct charges range from Class C misdemeanors to Class 3 felonies. In addition to prison sentences and fines, all charges also include 30-120 hours of community service. Bomb threats are taken especially seriously and can carry an additional fine of $3,000 to $10,000, plus reimbursement of the cost of the response to the threat.
Due to the wide variety of disorderly conduct charges, it is important to contact a lawyer to understand the specific penalties of your offense. As mentioned above, even the least offensive misdemeanors can carry long-lasting consequences and disrupt your life for decades. A simple prank phone call can technically carry penalties of 5 years in prison, $35,000 in fines, and 120 hours of community service.
Don’t let a mistake or slip of reasoning permanently define your future. Kerr & Schmiege are nationally recognized criminal defense lawyers for DuPage County, including the cities of Wheaton, Naperville, Aurora, Westmont, Oak Brook, and Lombard. Give your future the best chance with our highly skilled defense strategies and understanding of prosecutor tactics. Contact us immediately to ensure your rights are upheld to the fullest extent of the law.
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