Disturbing the Peace
A person who is convicted of disturbing the peace can be fined, and a second or subsequent conviction for disturbing the peace carries the possibility of a jail sentence.Elements of Disturbing the Peace
In order to convict the defendant of disturbing the peace, the Commonwealth must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that:
- The defendant participated in behavior which most people would conclude was unreasonably disruptive – for example, making disturbing and loud noise, throwing objects in a populated area, quarreling, threatening, fighting, uttering “fighting words,” or challenging others to fight;
- The defendant was acting intentionally and not by accident or mistake; and
- The defendant disturbed or annoyed at least one person.
- Disturbing the peace is most often charged when the defendant is fighting on the street and the police get involved. There is always a question regarding whether the defendant’s actions annoyed or disturbed at least one person.
- A defendant is always entitled to use reasonable force to defend himself from being physically attacked. Therefore, if the defendant was involved in a fight on the street but was trying to defend himself or herself, he or she can assert self-defense at trial.
- While a conviction for a second or subsequent disturbing the peace carries potentially serious consequences, it is a relatively minor crime. Prosecutors can sometimes be convinced to dismiss these cases upon the payment of court costs. Attorney Spring will aggressively seek to convince prosecutors that dismissal of these charges is appropriate in your case. Disturbing the peace is routinely charged by police officers as an “add-on” crime to offenses such as resisting arrest and assault and battery on a police officer. Since the penalty for a first offense is only a fine, defendants sometimes want to plead guilty and pay the fine to avoid going through a trial. This case be a mistake, as any conviction can act as a predicate to a subsequent offense, which is punishable by jail.
Given the serious consequences that can result from a conviction for a subsequent offense disturbing the peace, you should hire an aggressive criminal defense attorney who has experience in litigating these types of cases. Attorney Chris Spring prosecuted these cases earlier in his career when he served as an assistant district attorney and since becoming a defense attorney, he has successfully defended hundreds of individuals charged with disturbing the peace. Having tried more than 150 cases before Massachusetts juries in both district and superior court, Attorney Spring has the necessary experience to guide you through the criminal justice system and present your side of the story to a jury.
It is always dangerous to speak to the police before first consulting with a criminal defense attorney. While you may believe that you are not providing the police with harmful information, your statement could end up incriminating you at trial. Contact Attorney Spring immediately to schedule a free consultation at your home if the police are trying to speak to you.