The Super Law Blog

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The Enemy of Good Times… According To Some

If you are accustomed to the enjoyment of Houston’s nightlife then you know one thing, the Houston Police Department is at the party as well as on Houston’s highly trafficked roadways. Disorderly Conduct

This can make it very easy for a person to get arrested on a Saturday night.

In some cases, the police officer(s) will arrest innocent people alongside people who are guilty.

This type of criminal offense normally happens during big bar fights in which the police can easily get people mixed up, and before you know it, you’ve been arrested for disorderly conduct when you were not involved in the melee.

A Houston area criminal justice attorney I know told me that disorderly conduct arrests can also happen during traffic stops and a number of other situations outside the club scene.

Reasons Why A Person May Be Arrested For Disorderly Conduct

  • Loitering may be a probable cause for arrest.
  • Cases of public intoxication can also be considered disorderly conduct in some instances.
  • Disturbing the Peace can also be considered disorderly conduct.
  • Almost any public action can be considered disorderly conduct.

The legal definition of disorderly conduct is, by its very nomenclature, vague.

Sec. 42.01. DISORDERLY CONDUCT. (a) A person commits an offense if he intentionally or knowingly:

  1. uses abusive, indecent, profane, or vulgar language in a public place, and the language by its very utterance tends to incite an immediate breach of the peace;
  2. makes an offensive gesture or display in a public place, and the gesture or display tends to incite an immediate breach of the peace;
  3. creates, by chemical means, a noxious and unreasonable odor in a public place;
  4. abuses or threatens a person in a public place in an obviously offensive manner;
  5. makes unreasonable noise in a public place other than a sport shooting range, as defined by Section 250.001, Local Government Code, or in or near a private residence that he has no right to occupy;
  6. fights with another in a public place;
  7. discharges a firearm in a public place other than a public road or a sport shooting range, as defined by Section 250.001, Local Government Code;
  8. displays a firearm or other deadly weapon in a public place in a manner calculated to alarm;
  9. discharges a firearm on or across a public road;
  10. exposes his anus or genitals in a public place and is reckless about whether another may be present who will be offended or alarmed by his act; or
  11. for a lewd or unlawful purpose:

(A) enters on the property of another and looks into a dwelling on the property through any window or other opening in the dwelling;

(B) while on the premises of a hotel or comparable establishment, looks into a guest room not the person’s own through a window or other opening in the room; or

(C) while on the premises of a public place, looks into an area such as a restroom or shower stall or changing or dressing room that is designed to provide privacy to a person using the area.

(a-1) For purposes of Subsection (a), the term “public place” includes a public school campus or the school grounds on which a public school is located.

(b) It is a defense to prosecution under Subsection (a)(4) that the actor had significant provocation for his abusive or threatening conduct.

(c) For purposes of this section:

  1. an act is deemed to occur in a public place or near a private residence if it produces its offensive or proscribed consequences in the public place or near a private residence; and
  2. a noise is presumed to be unreasonable if the noise exceeds a decibel level of 85 after the person making the noise receives notice from a magistrate or peace officer that the noise is a public nuisance.

(d) An offense under this section is a Class C misdemeanor unless committed under Subsection (a)(7) or (a)(8), in which event it is a Class B misdemeanor.

(e) It is a defense to prosecution for an offense under Subsection (a)(7) or (9) that the person who discharged the firearm had a reasonable fear of bodily injury to the person or to another by a dangerous wild animal as defined by Section 822.101, Health and Safety Code.

(f) Subsections (a)(1), (2), (3), (5), and (6) do not apply to a person who, at the time the person engaged in conduct prohibited under the applicable subdivision, was a student younger than 12 years of age, and the prohibited conduct occurred at a public school campus during regular school hours.

(g) Noise arising from space flight activities, as defined by Section 100A.001, Civil Practice and Remedies Code, if lawfully conducted, does not constitute “unreasonable noise” for purposes of this section.

Acts 1973, 63rd Leg., p. 883, ch. 399, Sec. 1, eff. Jan. 1, 1974. Amended by Acts 1977, 65th Leg., p. 181, ch. 89, Sec. 1, 2, eff. Aug. 29, 1977; Acts 1983, 68th Leg., p. 4641, ch. 800, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1983; Acts 1991, 72nd Leg., ch. 145, Sec. 2, eff. Aug. 26, 1991; Acts 1993, 73rd Leg., ch. 900, Sec. 1.01, eff. Sept. 1, 1994; Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 318, Sec. 14, eff. Sept. 1, 1995; Acts 2001, 77th Leg., ch. 54, Sec. 4, eff. Sept. 1, 2001; Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 389, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 2003.

Amended by:

  • Acts 2011, 82nd Leg., R.S., Ch. 691 (H.B. 359), Sec. 6, eff. September 1, 2011.
  • Acts 2013, 83rd Leg., R.S., Ch. 953 (H.B. 1791), Sec. 6, eff. September 1, 2013.
  • Acts 2013, 83rd Leg., R.S., Ch. 1407 (S.B. 393), Sec. 19, eff. September 1, 2013.
  • Acts 2013, 83rd Leg., R.S., Ch. 1409 (S.B. 1114), Sec. 9, eff. September 1, 2013.


As you can see, even having a vehicle with a loud motor can net you an arrest for disorderly conduct right along with playing loud music at your home. Think House Party. Even driving through an area where residents dislike loud music can get you arrested for this minor criminal offense which is normally a city ordinance. If you get arrested for disorderly conduct don’t take it lightly, talk with a criminal defense attorney who will fight the charge and work to get the case dismissed.

Disorderly Conduct – Felony or Misdemeanor?

It depends on the situation if the crime of disorderly conduct will be deemed a felony or misdemeanor offense.

For example, if you engage in, or are arrested for, an act determined to be “disorderly conduct” during a funeral, Presidential event (in some cases), in an airport or other over-secure area, then the offender is most likely looking at a criminal charge amounting to a felony offense.

However, if the offense occurs outside of the previously named areas, then the crime will most likely be handled as a misdemeanor criminal offense. Needless to say, most acts of disorderly conduct are treated as misdemeanors, and are usually ticketed in most jurisdictions, but then again, it depends on where the crime took place.

Any Houston criminal defense lawyer who is worth his salt, should be able to beat the charge so long as your weren’t written in as your own worse enemy in the police report.

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