Disorderly Conduct in Minnesota
Disorderly conduct is one of those misdemeanor charges with a disturbing history.
Historically some police officers have abused this statute by using their discretion to charge people who have offended them.
Assert your rights, politely. Say: “I choose to remain silent until I can consult an attorney, officer.” Then, remain silent. Follow police instructions about your physical movements. But don’t make any statements or consent to any searches until after consulting a defense attorney.
Common types of Minnesota disorderly conduct charges include:
Police officer witness. A personality conflict between an individual and a police officer may lead to a disorderly conduct (disturb the peace) charge based upon the claims made by the police officer. Here, the police officer is a participant, not an impartial third-party witness.
Disorderly conduct as a lesser included, add-on charge. A person charged with assault, or domestic assault, may be charged with a disorderly charge as an additional, lesser-included count.
Disorderly conduct with a motor vehicle. Minnesota police officers sometimes write up people for these charges in traffic accident situations. Police officers can charge in situations of alleged rude or unsafe driving conduct associated with drivers being angry about other drivers’ dangerous, negligent or unsafe driving conduct. People often refer to these types of cases as “road rage” claims. The police officer typically is not a witness, arriving after the fact and gathers hearsay.
Minnesota Disorderly Conduct Lawyer
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. The complaining party may have mistakenly perceived events through an emotional filter, or have an axe to grind.
Self-defense can be an affirmative defense in these cases.
The First Amendment can be a defense, for example in protester cases.
The Minnesota Disorderly Conduct Statute:
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; 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. …
Subd. 3. Caregiver; A caregiver, … who violates the provisions of subdivision 1 against a vulnerable adult, …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
NOTE: Subdivision 1, clause (2), was held unconstitutional under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution because it is substantially overbroad. State v. Hensel, 901 N.W.2d 166 (Minn. 2017).