Disorderly Conduct in Minnesota

Disorderly conduct is one of those misdemeanor charges with a disturbing history.  It has a history of having been abused by police officers, using their discretion to cause people they don’t like, or who have offended them, to be charged with a disorderly conduct mn (disturbing the peace) crime.

Common types of Minnesota disorderly conduct charges include:

•  Police officer witness.  Often there is some encounter between an individual and a police officer which is less than amicable, which ends up with a disorderly conduct (disturb the peace) charge against the individual based upon the claims made by the police officer.

•  Disorderly conduct as a lesser included, add-on charge.  Another common situation is where a person is charged with assault, or domestic assault, and the disorderly charge is added as an additional, lesser-included count.

•  Disorderly conduct with a motor vehicle.  In recent years, there has been an increasing trend of Minnesota police officers writing up people for Disorderly Conduct (disturb the peace) charges in traffic accident situations, and situations of alleged rude or unsafe driving conduct associated with drivers being upset or angry aboutother drivers’ dangerous, negligent or unsafe driving conduct.  In these situations, the police office typically is not a witness, but arrives after the fact and takes the side of one party, against another.

Minnesota Disorderly Conduct Lawyer


Thomas C Gallagher has been a disorderly conduct lawyer handling these kinds of cases in Minnesota criminal court for over 29 years.  Though this is not the most serious criminal charge, most of the people charged have a clean record and would benefit from keeping it that way.  Help from a good Disorderly Conduct Lawyer like Gallagher can make the difference.  Avoiding a guilty plea and avoiding a conviction are necessary in order to later petition the court for an expungement under Minnesota Statutes Chapter 609A.

Minnesota Disorderly Conduct Defense.
The criminal defenses available in Minnesota criminal cases generally are available in disorderly conduct cases.  Often the defense is that the prohibited conduct never happened, that the complaining party misperceived events or has an axe to grind.  Self-defense can be an affirmative defense in these cases.  Sometimes there are cases where free speech rights under the First Amendment can be asserted as a defense, such as in certain protester cases.

The 2008 Minnesota Disorderly Conduct Statute read as follows:

Minnesota Statutes Section 609.72

Subdivision 1.  Crime.  Whoever does any of the following in a public or private place, including on a school bus, knowing, or having reasonable grounds to know that it will, or will tend to, alarm, anger or disturb others or provoke an assault or breach of the peace, is guilty of disorderly conduct, which is a misdemeanor:

(1) engages in brawling or fighting; or

(2) disturbs an assembly or meeting, not unlawful in its character [ruled unconstitutional in 2017 by the Minnesota Supreme Court]; or

(3) engages in offensive, obscene, abusive, boisterous, or noisy conduct or in offensive, obscene, or abusive language tending reasonably to arouse alarm, anger, or resentment in others.

A person does not violate this section if the person’s disorderly conduct was caused by an epileptic seizure.

Subd. 2.

[Repealed, 1969 c 226 s 1]

Subd. 3.  Caregiver; penalty for disorderly conduct.  A caregiver, as defined in section 609.232, who violates the provisions of subdivision 1 against a vulnerable adult, as defined in section 609.232, may be sentenced to imprisonment for not more than one year or to payment of a fine of not more than $3,000, or both.