Adults that are facing allegations of committing a criminal offense in Lancaster County will have their case heard in the Court of Common Pleas. Those accused of juvenile delinquency will be processed through the Juvenile Justice System. In 2017, the County handled more than 7,900 adult cases and over 1,100 juvenile cases.
Disorderly Conduct (§5503)
Those who are behaving in a way that creates a disturbance, annoyance, or may incite violence may be charged with disorderly conduct. This behavior is demonstrated in a public place and often creates unreasonable noise levels and may involve making lewd gestures or using offensive language. The charges may be either a misdemeanor of the third-degree or a summary offense.
When the behavior is deemed to be intended to create significant harm or inconvenience or the individual does not comply with orders to cease, the charge is a third-degree misdemeanor. This is a misdemeanor punishable by a maximum one year of incarceration and a $2,000 maximum fine. A summary offense is a lesser charge than a misdemeanor where the maximum penalties are 90 days in jail and a $300 fine.
Disrupting Meetings or Processions (§5508)
This is a very similar offense to disorderly conduct that is charged as a third-degree misdemeanor. This is committed when an individual intentionally creates an interruption or otherwise disturbs a group that has assembled for a procession or gathering.
Criminal Mischief (§3304)
This is an offense that involves any of the following activities:
- Willfully or negligently using fire or a type of explosive to damage property
- Willfully tampers with someone's property
- Willfully causes someone to incur a financial loss by deceiving or threatening action
- Defaces property with graffiti using paint or a marker
- Defaces property using a paintball gun or marker
If the damage caused exceeds $5,000 or disrupts lines of communication, utilities, or public services it will be charged as a third-degree felony offense. This is punishable by a maximum sentence of seven years in prison and a $15,000 fine. If the damage caused is between $1,000 and $5,000 the charge is a second-degree misdemeanor. This is punishable by a maximum of two years of imprisonment and a $5,000 fine. Damage between $500 and $1,000 equates to a third-degree misdemeanor or a summary offense if less than $500.
Lancaster County Diversionary Programs
In 2019, the County announced that roughly one of every five criminal cases is diverted to some form of alternative or diversionary program. This amounted to roughly 1,500 cases in 2018. These are solutions that do not involve traditional prosecution and often involve assessments for problems involving drugs, alcohol, and potential mental health challenges. These programs generally seek to rehabilitate offenders and reduce recidivism.
Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD)
Offenders may apply for the ARD program through the District Attorney. The standard ARD program applies to offenders with cases such as disorderly contact. There is also a more specialized ARD program specifically for DUI offenders. Those admitted will be ordered to complete a series of rehabilitative programs such as counseling and treatment for substance abuse. If the program is complete, the criminal charges against the individual may be dismissed.
Experienced Defense Counsel for Disorderly Conduct Cases in Lancaster County
Attorney Joseph D. Lento is a seasoned criminal defense attorney that represents clients across the state of Pennsylvania. Having a criminal conviction on your record may result in adverse consequences when subject to background checks for education, employment, and more. You are encouraged to contact the office today for a case evaluation at (888) 535-3686.