When people think of Southern California crimes that they should be careful not to break, they often think of drunk driving, assault, theft, and other incidents that may occur during a lapse of reason or great emotion. However, many forget that disturbing the peace is a frequently charged crime, both by itself and in conjunction with other criminal charges.
But what exactly is disturbing the peace?
According to California Penal Code Section 415, disturbing the peace is defined as "(1) Any person who unlawfully fights in a public place or challenges another person in a public place to fight. (2) Any person who maliciously and willfully disturbs another person by loud and unreasonable noise. (3) Any person who uses offensive words in a public place which are inherently likely to provoke an immediate violent reaction." It is important to note that no other actions have to be taken to qualify as disturbing the peace, such as fighting. If convicted of a disturbing the peace crime in Ventura County or anywhere else in Southern California, as misdemeanor, a defendant faces up to 90 days in county jail, a fine of up to $400, or both. Additionally, defendants may have to pay restitution for any property damage caused during the crime.
Disturbing the peace can also be charged as an infraction as opposed to a misdemeanor. The difference between an infraction and a misdemeanor is that a misdemeanor can carry jail time, probation, and a fine. Infractions can only be punished by imposition of a fine. It is for this reason that Penal Code Section 415, Disturbing the Peace is often used in plea bargain arrangements as a lesser charge to "plead down" to from a more serious charge such as Penal Code Section 148(a)(1) Resisting or Obstructing an Officer in the Performance of His Duties.
Do not take a disturbing the peace charge lightly; any crime on your permanent record could have lasting familial, social, relational, and professional repercussions. Camarillo criminal defense attorney Daniel Kann has years of experience successfully defending clients against all manners of charges. For more information, call the Law Offices of Daniel Kann at (805) 290-4932.