Teens sometimes commit acts that others find annoying or offensive. They may even sometimes fight with other teens. While these actions should be discouraged, do they ever rise to the crime of disorderly conduct?
What constitutes disorderly conduct?
Texas Penal Code Section 42.01 covers the crime of disorderly conduct. There are many ways a person could commit disorderly conduct. Any acts of disorderly conduct must be intentional or committed knowingly.
A person engages in disorderly conduct if they use “fighting words” in public that could incite immediate violence or make an offensive gesture or display in public in a way that would amount to “fighting words” that could incite immediate violence.
A person also engages in disorderly conduct if they use chemical means to produce a noxious and unreasonable smell in public.
Being unreasonably noisy in public to the extent that the noise exceeds 85 decibels or such that the person making the noise received notice from the police that their noise is a nuisance is also considered disorderly conduct.
A person engages in disorderly conduct if they make threats against someone or abuse someone in public in a way that would be obviously offensive, of if they fight with someone in public.
A person also engages in disorderly conduct if they flash a deadly weapon in public with the purpose of alarming someone or if they fire a gun on or across a public road.
A person engages in disorderly conduct if they recklessly “moon” or “flash” in public with no regard to who might be present and offended or alarmed by such actions.
Finally, a person engages in disorderly conduct if for lewd or unlawful purposes they act as a “peeping tom” at a person’s home, hotel room, public restroom, shower or dressing room.
Can teens commit disorderly conduct?
Teens can face charges of disorderly conduct. However, there are some exceptions.
First, only teens who are students age 12 or above or above can commit disorderly conduct. Second, these youths can only commit disorderly conduct if they are in a public school during normal school hours when the alleged act occurred.
Disorderly conduct is a Class C misdemeanor, and a conviction could significantly impact a teen’s future. But remember, you are always innocent until proven guilty and the prosecution bears the burden of proving your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.