Articles Posted in Disturbing the Peace

What happens when you have a prior criminal record in California, and you are charged with a crime in a different state? This question becomes important when there is a potential probation violation due to the previous case. In order to better understand this process, it is best to define it through the use of examples.

David is a Los Angeles resident and works as a consultant for a company. His job requires him to travel a lot. One night while David was out with friends in LA, he was charged with drunk and disorderly conduct. David was drinking and him and his friends were causing some disturbances on the street outside of a restaurant, and were consequently too drunk to be allowed back in. This led David to be charged, and eventually convicted of a misdemeanor drunk and disorderly conduct.

As part of the sentence, David was put on three years of informal probation. Informal probation does not require that David check in with an officer, nor does it require that he not leave the state or the county. It does, however, require that David not commit any additional offenses while he is on this probationary period.

California Penal Code §647 makes it unlawful for a person to be drunk in public. The statute states that any person:

“who is found in any public place under the influence of intoxicating liquor, any drug, controlled substance, toluene, or any combination of any intoxicating liquor, drug, controlled substance, or toluene, in a condition that he or she is unable to exercise care for his or her own safety or the safety of others, or by reason of his or her being under the influence of intoxicating liquor, any drug, controlled substance, toluene, or any combination of any intoxicating liquor, drug, or toluene, interferes with or obstructs or prevents the free use of any street, sidewalk, or other public way.”

A drunk and disorderly conduct is charged as a misdemeanor. This means that if you get charged under California Penal Code §647 you would have a criminal charge on your record. With a misdemeanor charge, you are facing potential fines, probation and jail time.

California Penal Code §415 refers to Disturbing the Peace. A charge under PC 415 can be either a misdemeanor or an infraction depending on the facts surrounding the case. However, a PC 415 is generally a lesser charge so that it does not have as harsh of a consequence as other potential sentences. Additionally, a PC415 look more favorable on a criminal record and can be explained more easily than another more serious charge.

Let’s consider an example. Let’s say that David has been charged with a drunk and disorderly conduct under California Penal Code § 647(f). This can be charged as a misdemeanor and possibly a felony. It cannot be charged as an infraction, which is the ideal charge if the case cannot be dismissed. An infraction includes lower fines and no jail sentence as part of its potential sentence. When a Los Angeles Criminal Defense attorney appears on your behalf at the first court appearance they will be given a standard offer.

This first appearance is called an arraignment. At the arraignment the attorney will be expected to put in a plea on behalf of their client. The main goal at the arraignment is to try and negotiate with the District attorney or the City attorney to reduce the criminal charge or have it dismissed altogether. If the charge can be reduced to an infraction within the statute, the attorney will push the government attorney for that option.

California Penal Code §415 describes certain behaviors that will be considered unlawful and if proven beyond a reasonable doubt will be filed as a misdemeanor or an infraction. The following behaviors will be unlawful under the relevant penal code section:

1. Any person who unlawfully fights in a public place or challenges another person to a fight in a public place.

2. Any person who maliciously and willfully disturbs another person by loud or unreasonable noise

A criminal case is heard in criminal court before a criminal Judge. A family law case is heard before a civil judge in family law or civil court. However, the two may still have significant effects on each other. Family code §4320 (m) gives family law Judges the authority to consider any domestic violence and related cases as a factor in determining spousal support.

A party may lose their right to spousal support if the Judge believes there has been domestic violence. There must be documented domestic violence, not just an accusation. In many cases, the judge may also consider arrests. It does not have to be a conviction.

Let’s consider an example. Let’s say that Harry has been arrested and charged under California Penal Code §273.5, Corporal injury on a spouse. Harry and his wife, Wendy got into a fight with one night and Harry pushed Wendy. Wendy ended up falling on the floor and hurting herself. She called the cops and the result was that cops came and arrested Harry charging him with domestic violence. Harry appears before a criminal judge and accepts a plea bargain. He pleads guilty to a disturbing the peace and the charges of domestic violence are dropped against him.