Understanding Disorderly Conduct in Illinois

Disorderly conduct is a broad criminal act that encompasses several illicit behaviors. Behavior of a merely obnoxious manner can constitute disorderly conduct. For example, an Illinois man was charged with disorderly conduct after he stumbled through the streets of Palos Park over St. Patrick’s Day weekend, eating potato chips, banging on doors, and shouting at the top of his lungs.

In that case, his loud and obnoxious behavior was enough to be considered disorderly conduct. Alternatively, behavior that poses a threat to the safety of others can also be considered disorderly conduct. For example, last month Marion High School was placed under lockdown after a bomb threat was uncovered. The threat turned out to be an empty one, but the 18-year-old man behind the threats was arrested and charged with felony disorderly conduct for his behavior.

Any behavior – if it disturbs the peace, alarms others, or poses a threat to public safety – may be considered disorderly conduct and punishable by law. It is important to understand the basics of disorderly conduct as well as the potential penalties for obnoxious behavior.

What Is Disorderly Conduct In Illinois?

Disorderly conduct is an expansive term that covers a wide range of criminal behavior. Illinois disorderly conduct laws focus on enhancing public safety and keeping the peace. It can be described, most simply, as prohibiting behavior that disturbs the peace and/or conduct that is unreasonable and alarms or disturbs others.

In addition to a ‘catch-all’ element, the statute specifically outlines many behaviors that are considered to be defined as disorderly conduct. Any of the following behaviors, if performed with knowledge, are defined as disorderly conduct in Illinois:

  • False reports of a fire or fire alarm;
  • False reports of a bomb or another explosive;
  • False reports of an attack on a school;
  • False reports of a crime in progress or past crime in an effort to deploy law enforcement;
  • False reports about an abused or neglected child;
  • Requesting emergency services such as an ambulance or fire department assistance or calling 911 when unnecessary;
  • False reports to the Department of Public Health under the Nursing Home Care Act, the Specialized Mental Health Rehabilitation Act of 2013, the ID/DD Community Care Act, or the MC/DD Act;
  • Entering the property of another and for a lewd or unlawful purpose looking into the home of another; and
  • Using harassment or intimidation as a debt collector.

Punishments for Disorderly Conduct in Illinois Depend on Severity of Offense

In Illinois, disorderly conduct can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. The severity of the act will help to determine how the criminal charges will be applied. Misdemeanor disorderly conduct will generally be charged for behavior of an obnoxious and peace-disturbing nature – such as drunkenly roaming the streets and shouting. Felony disorderly conduct will generally be charged for behavior that poses a threat to the safety of others – such as leaving notes about a fake bomb threat.

Misdemeanor Disorderly Conduct

Misdemeanor disorderly conduct is punishable by up to 30 days, 6 months, or 1 year in jail, depending on the misdemeanor classification. Falsely reporting elder abuse or another crime is generally a Class B Misdemeanor, punishable by up to 6 months in prison. Falsely reporting a threat to public safety or unlawful looking into a dwelling for lewd purposes is more severe, and generally a Class A Misdemeanor. Class A Misdemeanors are punishable by up to 1 year in jail. Misdemeanor disorderly conduct convictions may also carry fines of between $1,500 and $2,500.

Felony Disorderly Conduct

Disorderly conduct triggering felony charges are generally Class 4 or Class 3 Felonies. A Class 4 Felony – such as making a false report of a fire alarm, making a threat against a school, or making a false call for emergency services – is punishable by 1-3 years in prison. A Class 3 Felony – such as a fake bomb threat – is punishable by 2-5 years in prison and a fine of between $3,000 and $10,000.

Debt collectors who are charged with disorderly conduct face steeper fines because the conduct is considered to be a business threat.

Illinois Disorderly Conduct Attorneys

If you or someone you know has been charged with disorderly conduct in Illinois, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. While misdemeanor charges of disorderly conduct may seem insignificant, the repercussions of a criminal record can severely impact your right to enjoy privileges in the future. Employers, lenders, and landlords who run criminal background checks will be privy to the charges and convictions on your record.

Disorderly conduct charges can be mitigated with the assistance of an experienced Chicago criminal defense attorney. In some cases, an attorney may be able to have the charges dropped or reduced to minimize the impact they have on your future. Contact us today for a free, no-commitment consultation to learn about your legal rights and how we may be able to help you.

Kostopoulos Law Group

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