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Common Evidence Used in Arizona Disorderly Conduct Charges

Posted on March 4, 2024 in

Disorderly conduct is one of the most common criminal charges in Arizona. It’s sometimes applied when law enforcement are not sure what other charges might apply to a situation. Disorderly conduct is sometimes called “disturbing the peace.” It may also be called “drunk and disorderly” when the suspect commits the conduct in combination with public intoxication. 

What constitutes “disorderly conduct” is often subjective. Law enforcement officers may charge an individual with disorderly conduct alone or in addition to other criminal charges. As with other crimes, the prosecution must prove the accused individual guilty beyond a reasonable doubt for a conviction. What types of evidence does the prosecution use to prove disorderly conduct charges in Arizona?

Common Evidence Used in Arizona Disorderly Conduct Charges

How Does Arizona Define Disorderly Conduct?

Arizona 13-2904 defines disorderly conduct as “intent to disturb the peace or quiet of a neighborhood, family or person…” Disturbing the peace is further defined as behaving violently, with seriously disruptive behaviors, making unreasonable noise, or fighting. It may also constitute using abusive, offensive language and/or gestures. Disorderly conduct charges are also applied to suspects who make a prolonged commotion or display with the intention of disrupting lawful gatherings or disturbing the peace of a quiet neighborhood. Refusing an order to disperse from law enforcement is another act of disorderly conduct in Arizona. Finally, displaying, recklessly handling, or discharging a weapon in public is disorderly conduct and can be charged as a felony if the weapon is a firearm. 

What is “Clear and Convincing Evidence” in a Disorderly Conduct Case?

Proving a disorderly conduct charge requires demonstrating evidence first, that the defendant committed one or more acts of disorderly conduct, and second, that they did so with the intention of disturbing the peace of an individual or neighborhood. Evidence may include any of the following:

  • Videos of the conduct captured on surveillance video, cell phone cameras, or traffic cameras
  • Photos of the disruptive or violent behavior
  • Eyewitness testimony, including the testimony of the accuser as well as others present at the scene

Compelling eyewitness testimony is often enough for a conviction even when no video or photographic evidence exists in the case. This is especially true when the defendant was intoxicated at the time the conduct took place. A defendant’s state of drunkenness means their own testimony is not reliable, whereas the testimony of a person who was not intoxicated is typically found to be authentic.

Common Defenses Against Disorderly Conduct Charges

It’s the job of a Phoenix criminal defense attorney to establish that the prosecution did not prove either the defendant’s disorderly conduct or the intent to commit disorderly conduct. Common defenses include the following:

  • Wrong defendant or a case of mistaken identity
  • The defendant has an alibi for the time the alleged disorderly conduct occurred
  • The act was committed in self-defense or in defense of another
  • The prosecution has insufficient evidence to prove that disorderly conduct occurred and/or that the action was intentional
  • The defendant’s constitutional rights were violated during the process of their arrest

Most disorderly conduct charges are misdemeanors, but disorderly conduct with a weapon may be a felony offense. 

It’s critically important to have a prompt aggressive defense for disorderly conduct charges since a conviction comes with serious consequences, including a permanent criminal record as well as fines, jail time, and probation.