Ohio law covers a range of prohibited activities that may be construed as obnoxious in nature and are referred to as disorderly conduct. If you have been arrested for disorderly conduct, remember that being convicted could mean more than just a fine. Depending on the circumstances, you could face additional charges or a permanent mark on your record that can significantly impact job searches and your future.
If you’re facing a disorderly conduct charge in Ohio, let the defense lawyers at Luftman, Heck, & Associates help. Don’t simply live with a misdemeanor conviction because you think it’s the best you can do.
What Is Disorderly Conduct?
According to Ohio Revised Code § 2917.11, disorderly conduct is an action that causes an alarm, annoyance, or inconvenience to another person. These actions can include various forms of conduct that disturb the peace, such as interrupting gatherings or meetings, verbally assaulting or threatening others, and otherwise intentionally bothering, angering, or annoying others.
Conduct that falls under the category of this misdemeanor include:
- Threatening harm to other individuals or property, engaging in fighting, or demonstrating turbulent or violent behavior
- Taunting, insulting, or challenging another person such that it is likely to elicit a violent response
- Making offensive gestures, utterances, unreasonable noises, or communicating or displaying unnecessary and completely abusive language to any individual
- Creating a situation or condition that physically offends or poses a risk of harm to other individuals or property through an act or actions that serve no reasonable or lawful purpose
- Preventing or hindering the free movement of others on the road, public street, right-of-way, or highway, or to, from, within, or upon private or public property such that it inhibits the rights of others and does not serve a reasonable or lawful purpose
Drunk and Disorderly Conduct
The crime of disorderly conduct can also be committed in the state of Ohio by individuals who are intoxicated. This can occur when an intoxicated individual is:
- Engaging in conduct that puts themselves, others, or the property of others at risk or
- Engaging in conduct in a public place or in the presence of two or more other individuals that is likely to annoy, inconvenience, offend, or scare any person(s).
Disorderly Conduct Penalties
Disorderly conduct is a minor misdemeanor in Ohio, carrying a fine of up to $150 with no jail time. Other types and varying degrees of this offense are punishable as follows:
- Aggravated disorderly conduct or disturbing a lawful meeting is a fourth-degree misdemeanor and carries a punishment of up to 30 days in jail and a maximum fine of $250.
- Public transit misconduct may be charged as a minor misdemeanor, depending on the circumstances, and punishable by up to 60 days in jail and a maximum fine of $500.
- Misconduct in an emergency situation is a first-degree misdemeanor with a 180-day maximum jail sentence and a fine of up to $1,000. This disorderly conduct may be charged as a fourth-degree misdemeanor, depending on the circumstances.
Is Disorderly Conduct Visible on a Background?
When someone undergoes a background check, like for a new job, it typically includes a review of their criminal history, which can reveal misdemeanors like disorderly conduct. The extent to which it is visible can depend on factors such as the severity of the offense, the laws of the state where it occurred, and the type of background check being conducted.
However, the visibility of a disorderly conduct charge can also be influenced by whether the charge led to a conviction and whether the individual has had the record expunged or sealed. In some cases, minor offenses such as disorderly conduct may be eligible for expungement, which means they would not appear on most background checks once the expungement process is completed.
The Impact of Disorderly Conduct on Your Future
Having a disorderly conduct conviction on your criminal record can significantly affect various aspects of your life, professionally and personally.
- Employment Challenges: Many employers conduct background checks before hiring. A disorderly conduct charge can raise red flags, especially if it leads to a conviction. It might suggest a lack of self-control or respect for law and order, making you seem like a risky hire. This is particularly true for positions that require a high level of trust and integrity.
- Educational Opportunities: If you plan to apply to colleges or universities, a background check might be a part of the admission process. A disorderly conduct charge can jeopardize your chances of getting into the school of your choice, as it might reflect poorly on your character and decision-making skills.
- Professional Licensing: Certain professions require clean records for licensing purposes. For instance, in fields like law, healthcare, and education, a misdemeanor might disqualify you or complicate the licensing process.
- Rental Applications: Landlords often perform background checks on potential tenants. A disorderly conduct charge could suggest potential behavioral problems, making landlords hesitant to rent to you.
- Personal Relationships: Such charges can also impact personal relationships, as they may cause others to question your character and reliability.
A Lawyer Can Help With Disorderly Conduct Charges
The best way to avoid the harm of a disorderly conduct charge from appearing on your record is to avoid a conviction altogether. The best way to do this is to work with an experienced criminal defense lawyer.
Even though disorderly conduct is a relatively minor offense, an attorney can still:
- Challenge the legality of your arrest
- Argue that your actions were unintentional or not disruptive
- Gather witness statements to show your conduct wasn’t disorderly
Every disorderly case is unique, but your attorney can use these strategies, and more to get the charges against you reduced or dismissed. Your reputation and career opportunities shouldn’t be limited due to a mistake or incident that got out of hand.
You May Eligible to Get Your Charge Expunged
Even if you are convicted, minor misdemeanors (which include disorderly conduct) can be expunged according to Ohio Revised Code § 2953.32. This means that the record of your minor misdemeanor conviction may potentially be expunged and sealed, making it invisible to potential employers running a background check.
However, certain statutory requirements must be met to qualify. For example, a minor misdemeanor may not be eligible for expungement if the offender has committed the crime multiple times.
Any application for expungement of a minor misdemeanor must be placed before the court for a hearing, and the procedure must be followed perfectly to get your record sealed. An expungement lawyer can explain your eligibility, file the application on your behalf, and represent you at the hearing to ensure your name is cleared.
Contact a Disorderly Conduct Attorney
The circumstances can dictate whether your disorderly conduct charge is minor or more serious. However, even a misdemeanor conviction can put you in jeopardy of jail time and steep fines. Your prospects for securing future employment may also be at risk.
Don’t fight the legal system alone if you’re facing a disorderly conduct charge. Our Cincinnati criminal defense attorneys at Luftman, Heck, & Associates are here to defend your rights and help minimize the potential consequences of your charge.
Contact us today at (513) 338-1890 to schedule a free consultation and get the legal help you need.