What is Disorderly Conduct?
A better question would be, what isn’t Disorderly Conduct?
The Disorderly Conduct law is kind of a kitchen sink law which prohibits a myriad of conduct that a neighbor, a pedestrian, or a police officer might find troublesome.
For instance, the Disorderly Conduct statute (RSA 644:2) prohibits:
1) Creating a condition in public that is hazardous and serves no legitimate purpose,
2) Fighting in public,
3) Engaging in violent or tumultuous behavior in public;
4) Engaging in threatening behavior in public;
5) Being obscene in public;
6) Acting in a way that can evoke a violent reaction in public;
7) Saying or yelling things in a public place that could offend someone;
8) Saying or yelling offensive things in a private place that could be heard in a public place;
And on, and on, and on.
The Disorderly Conduct statute is broad and gives police enough discretion to arrest you anytime they think you are acting like a jerk.
There are no doubt some draw backs to having a statute like this in place given the discretion that it gives a police officer to arrest you. However, the Disorderly Conduct law is a handy law to have when you need to have a serious charge reduced to something minor. And, as you can see, almost every kind of bad behavior (with perhaps the exception of theft) can be boiled down to disorderly conduct.
One lesson to take away from this page is that it is never a good thing to be unruly in public. No one wants to hear or see loud offensive behavior when they are out for a stroll in the downtown area. Acting loud and crazy tends to scare children, agitate police, and disturb the elderly.
When in doubt and you are about to lose your cool with someone, just remember to take a deep breath, walk away, and take it to court. If someone has ripped you off – don’t yell. Just bring them to small claims court. If you think the police are being unfair in some way, then don’t yell and scream at them. Just deal with the issue when you go to court. Although the Disorderly Conduct statute is frequently viewed with a cynical eye and often mocked by defense lawyers, it does serve a legitimate purpose.
Gone are the days when you could slap someone with a pair of gloves and challenge them to a duel for being discourteous or offensive towards you in public. Thus, this statute is intended to preserve decorum and dignity in our public places, stores, malls, and schools.
If you have a question about this law, please call or e-mail us.
Our telephone number is: 603-595-5525