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How Serious Are Disorderly Conduct Charges in Raleigh, NC?

Historically, the term “disorderly conduct” conjures up images of protests, marches, sit-ins and other public demonstrations from the 1960’s. These types of activities still exist, but public rallies and other gatherings usually require permits from the city or municipality where they are held.

While many large-scale gatherings are peaceful, they can also change into something that endangers the public quickly. Intoxicated individuals, people blocking or disrupting the course of normal business, groups of people shouting at funeral or memorial services, and other acts intended to cause problems or violence can result in disorderly conduct charges under NC General Statutes Section 14-288.4.

What Is Disorderly Conduct?

Two men fighting and then receiving disorderly conduct charges Raleigh, North Carolina

North Carolina considers this to be “a public disturbance intentionally caused by any person” who:

  • Starts a fight, engages in fighting or other violent conduct
  • Creates a threat of imminent violence
  • Is abusive, disturbs the peace, and intends to cause a violent reaction
  • Takes possession of a building without permission, and refusing to leave a facility after being ordered
  • Disrupts, blocks, interferes with or otherwise interfering with and disturbing a religious activity, funeral or memorial service two hours before or after and within 500 feet of an activity, including a military funeral or memorial service
  • Occupies or otherwise interferes with the operation of an educational institution, including
    • Congregating
    • Seizing buildings
    • Blocking entrances and exits
    • Intending to disrupt the operation of the institution
  • Disturbs the peace, order or discipline at a public school or onboard a public school bus

Failing to follow an officer’s orders can also lead to additional charges of:

  • “Failure to disperse,” if an officer believes that there is a riot about to occur, you’re ordered to leave and fail to obey the officer’s request
  • Loitering
  • Being drunk in public
  • Blocking or obstructing traffic
  • Resisting arrest

“Disorderly conduct” is also a collective term that police may use to arrest a number of people who are causing a disturbance or appear to be, even if they’re innocent. That’s why it’s important to find a Raleigh criminal defense attorney who can defend you in court.

Penalties For Disorderly Conduct In North Carolina


North Carolina considers a first offense for disorderly conduct a Class 2 misdemeanor. However, a second offense is a Class I felony, while third and subsequent offenses are a Class H felony.

For a first offense, you may be given a fine of up to $1,000 and a sentence of 60 days in jail, depending on the judge’s discretion. A second offense can bring three to twelve months in jail, while a Class H may be four to twenty five months incarceration, in addition to any court-imposed fines. North Carolina also has no statute of limitations on felony charges.

However, police officers may use the term “disorderly conduct” when they don’t have something more specific to charge you with at the time of arrest. This means that unless you were specifically caught doing something disruptive, a North Carolina criminal defense attorney can challenge your arrest and your charges.

Raleigh’s Criminal Attorney

Dewey P. Brinkley is an experienced criminal defense attorney Raleigh, NC. Before working as a defense attorney, he was a Wake County Assistant District Attorney. He understands the criminal justice system, and can handle disorderly conduct as well as other misdemeanor charges.

Call the law offices of Dewey P. Brinkley today for a free initial consultation to discuss your criminal defense case at (919) 832-0307. You can also email us at dewey@deweypbrinkleylaw.com, or use our online contact form.