What Is Considered Disorderly Conduct In California?

Free & Confidential Consultations

Disorderly conduct is a crime that some people might think is limited to being “drunk and disorderly” in public.

However, California’s disorderly conduct law covers a wider range of behavior than that. The law refers to a laundry list of offenses that people might consider a public nuisance or annoyance. 

A California disorderly conduct charge is not the most serious offense. Notwithstanding, you should not take any criminal charges lightly.

You could still go to jail if convicted, and you will have a criminal record, even for a first-time disorderly conduct charge.

Working with an experienced and skilled criminal defense lawyer is the best way to avoid the negative consequences of a disorderly conduct arrest.

Although you might be tempted to try to handle the charge yourself, you run the risk of damaging your future if things go wrong. Do not take unnecessary chances with your future.

In San Diego, preeminent defense attorney Kerry L. Armstrong and his team with The Law Offices of Kerry L. Armstrong, APLC, are award-winning attorneys who vigorously defend their clients against criminal charges.

What Is Disorderly Conduct?

Disorderly conduct in California is defined under Penal Code Section 647. It refers to offensive or disruptive public behavior that disturbs others’ enjoyment of public spaces.

Some disorderly conduct examples include the following:

  • Engaging in lewd or dissolute conduct in public;
  • Soliciting a prostitute;
  • Engaging in acts of prostitution;
  • Loitering near a public toilet aiming to engage in lewd acts;
  • Begging in public;
  • Lodging in a building, vehicle, or place without permission (squatting);
  • Prowling or loitering on private property;
  • Peeping through doors or windows into a private residence;
  • Peeping in bathrooms, changing rooms, or locker rooms with the use of electronic devices (invasion of privacy);
  • Recording people in bathrooms, changing rooms, or locker rooms;
  • Distributing images depicting intimate body parts or people engaged in sexual activities; and
  • Being under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or both, and not having the ability to care for your safety or the safety of others, or while obstructing a street or sidewalk.

These offenses are customarily thought of as “quality of life” crimes.

Police might try to clean up the streets by performing a prostitution sting or try to increase patrols to catch people in the process of committing the acts designated by statute.

Award-Winning Defense Attorney Discusses How to Beat a Disorderly Conduct Charge

The best defenses are always born out of the facts of your case. However, a few defense strategies apply to every criminal accusation.

For starters, the government always has the burden to prove you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in any criminal case. That burden is the highest burden of proof in our legal system.

As a result, the best defense often argues that the prosecution has failed to meet its high burden of proving each element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. 

Another good defense involves arguing that the police misidentified you as the perpetrator of the crime.

In other words, you might be able to argue that you are not the person who committed the act.

Alternatively, you might have an alibi, or the police might have entrapped you into soliciting a prostitute, for example.

Contact a Board-Certified Specialist in Criminal Law Today

San Diego criminal defense lawyer Kerry L. Armstrong and his team are in your corner. 

We have nearly 50 years of experience, we have tried well over 100 cases to jury trial, and lead attorney Kerry Armstrong is a board-certified specialist in criminal law by the State Bar of California.

Very few law firms can offer that level of experience and expertise. Your future is worth it!  So contact us today for a free and confidential consultation at 619-598-1703.

Author Photo

Kerry L. Armstrong


Attorney Kerry Armstrong opened up his law firm in June 2007. Mr. Armstrong attended Thomas Jefferson School of Law, San Diego, California, and received his B.S. from Middle Tennessee State University. Kerry L. Armstrong became certified by the State Bar of California’s Board of Legal Specialization for criminal law in August 2020, making him one of the few criminal defense attorneys with a criminal law legal specialization certificate in San Diego County.  Between 2014 – 2019, Mr. Armstrong was selected for inclusion in the California Super Lawyers list, an honor only awarded to 5% of the nation’s attorneys.

Rate this Post

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars