In Montgomery County, they handle nearly 10,000 adult and juvenile criminal cases annually. The administration has been among the leading counties in terms of establishing specialized courts and diversionary programs. They now have a Drug Court, Behavioral Health Court, and a Veterans Treatment Court. In 2017, there were 415 adult and 37 juvenile “public order” misdemeanor offenses. These are composed largely of disorderly conduct offenses.
Disorderly Conduct (§ 5503)
Disorderly conduct involves actions that aggravate, annoy, or otherwise disturb the public. These actions may be inappropriate for or possibly endanger the public. Commonly the charges are the result of a verbal or physical altercation. These actions may create “unreasonable noise” that is disruptive. The actions may involve obscene language or offensive gestures.
The charge of disorderly conduct may be filed as a misdemeanor of the third degree or a summary offense. A third-degree misdemeanor charge is appropriate when the conduct may create significant harm, or when the actions persist after being warned by a peace officer or correctional officer. Public settings may include neighborhoods, schools, apartment communities, businesses, etc.
When three or more individuals demonstrate disorderly behavior that may create harm or impede those responsible for law enforcement, the charge may be enhanced to a failure of disorderly persons to disperse upon official order (§ 5502). This charge is a misdemeanor of the second-degree. The most serious related offense is a charge for rioting, which occurs when two or more individuals intentionally commit a crime, demonstrate coerciveness, or use a deadly weapon. This charge is a felony of the third degree.
Levels of Offenses and Maximum Penalties
- Felony of third-degree: A maximum of seven years of incarceration and a fine of up to $15,000
- Misdemeanor of second-degree: A maximum of two years of incarceration and a fine of up to $5,000
- Misdemeanor of third-degree: A maximum of one year of incarceration and a fine of up to $2,500
- Summary offense: A maximum of 90 days of incarceration and a fine of up to $300
Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) Program
First-time offenders who are determined to be “amenable to treatment and rehabilitation” are eligible for the ARD program. Individuals wishing to enter the program may submit an application within 30 days of their initial hearing. If accepted, the party waives their right to a formal hearing and arraignment. The program involves probation with specific conditions, costs and fines, hours of community service, and other requirements. Those who successfully complete the program are eligible for having their charges dismissed.
Criminal Record Expungement
Offenders may be eligible to have their charges removed from their record, known as an “expungement.” Those who have not been charged with a crime for an 18-month period may qualify. Offenders who had been convicted of some offenses as a juvenile may be eligible for expungement after reaching the age of 21. Those with prior offenses that reach the age of 70 may qualify for expungement if it has been 10 years since they have had a conviction. Summary offenses may be expunged after a five-year period without an offense has elapsed.
Defense Attorney for Disorderly Conduct Charges in Montgomery County
Attorney Joseph D. Lento represents clients in the Pennsylvania court system faced with criminal charges. If convicted of a criminal offense, the court may impose jail time and fines. Another concern is the longer-term effect of having a criminal conviction on your record. Contact the office today for a consultation at (888) 535-3686.