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What Does Disorderly Conduct Mean in Texas?

 Posted on December 22, 2023 in Criminal Defense

TX defense lawyerGetting charged with disorderly conduct in Texas exposes you to up to $500 for a class C offense or $2,000 for a class B offense. But what constitutes acts qualifying for disorderly conduct accusations? Understanding the specifics helps avoid confrontations leading to citations. A Texas criminal defense lawyer can help you understand the charges and try to figure out if you have grounds to get them dismissed.

Defining Disorderly Behavior

Texas statute states that disorderly conduct is when an individual intentionally or knowingly uses “indecent, vulgar, abusive, or profane language in a public place” that incites breach of the peace. Also included is making “offensive gestures or displays” inciting lawless action. So vulgarity and offensive visible expressions causing public unrest meet disorderly conduct criteria.

What Types of Language Qualify?

While the legal definition appears rather broad, disorderly conduct ultimately hinges on speech sparking potential violence from others. Simple profanity like cursing typically falls under free speech protections. However, stringing together fighting words and aggressive phrases threateningly earns disorderly conduct charges. Context matters most for these types of cases.

When Do Gestures Become Criminal?

Likewise, not all distasteful public gestures break Texas disorderly conduct laws. For example, raising middle fingers, though crude, often fails on court challenges. However, coupled with aggressive verbiage and environmental context, hand gestures and signals perceived as wanting to fight prompt disorderly conduct.

Can My Free Speech Rights Get Violated?

Technically, dialects and motions expressing anger or frustration remain lawful until language and actions cross over into threats of harm or lawlessness against people or property. By then, free speech bounds no longer apply. When charges happen regardless, experienced criminal defense lawyers can invoke First Amendment infringements via court petitions dismissing unfounded disorderly conduct accusations.

Avoiding Trouble Situations

Because disorderly conduct in Texas centers on reactions by others, avoiding confrontations presents the simplest path to prevent allegations. Refrain from responding to insults or perceived slights. Report public harassment to property owners or call law enforcement. Video record disorderly people rather than engaging if feeling unsafe as it can get turned around on you for causing the situation.

Contact a Cooke County, TX Criminal Defense Lawyer

Facing false or exaggerated disorderly conduct allegations still happens too frequently when emotions escalate. Working alongside a Denton County, TX criminal defense attorney to examine questionable accusations against free speech protections can provide assurance to defeat unfounded disorderly conduct claims. Call Magaña & Van Dyke at 940-382-1976 for a free consultation to know what the next step you should take is.

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