Penal Code 415 PC | Disturbing the Peace

Penal Code 415 PC | Disturbing the Peace

Getting arrested for disturbing the peace can be scary. What does it even mean to “disturb the peace?” This article will explain everything you need to know about California’s disturbing the peace law – Penal Code 415 PC. We’ll cover what’s illegal, typical scenarios, punishment, and legal defenses so you can fight the charges.

What is Disturbing the Peace?

Disturbing the peace is a broad term that can cover lots of behaviors. Basically, it’s doing something that violates public order by being offensive, annoying, rude, angry, loud, etc. According to 415 PC, it’s illegal to:

  • Fight or challenge someone to fight in public
  • Disturb an assembly or meeting, like yelling during a city council meeting
  • Disturb occupants of any home or building with loud noise
  • Use offensive words in public that are likely to cause a violent reaction
  • Make unreasonable noise, like blasting music at night

It’s a misdemeanor offense punishable by up to 90 days in county jail. Fines can be up to $400. It all depends on the situation and your criminal record.

Typical Scenarios

Here’s some common ways people get charged with disturbing the peace:

  • A couple has a loud argument outside a restaurant. Patrons complain they’re frightening customers.
  • A party gets too noisy at night with loud music. Neighbors call in noise complaints.
  • Somebody gets drunk and starts yelling profanities on the sidewalk.
  • A protest starts blocking traffic and disrupting local businesses.

As you can see, “disturbing the peace” covers a wide range of obnoxious behaviors – basically anything that negatively impacts the public. Police have a lot of discretion on when to make arrests.

Punishment for 415 PC

Disturbing the peace is a misdemeanor in California, punishable by:

  • Up to 90 days in county jail
  • A max fine of $400
  • Informal probation

But the prosecutor often reduces charges in exchange for a plea deal. For example, they may let you plead down to an infraction with a smaller fine.

If you already have a criminal record, you’ll face harsher consequences. A second misdemeanor conviction can mean up to 1 year in jail.

Legal Defenses

Don’t just accept these allegations against you. There are viable defenses an experienced attorney can raise, such as:

  • You didn’t intend to disturb anyone – it was an accident.
  • Someone provoked you into disturbing behavior.
  • You have a medical condition that caused the disturbance.
  • You were falsely accused or mistaken identity.
  • Your speech was constitutionally protected.

A good lawyer can also negotiate with the DA to get charges reduced or dismissed. Don’t try to handle this alone.

Disturbing the Peace vs. Disorderly Conduct

Disorderly conduct under Penal Code 647(f) is similar to disturbing the peace. But there’s some key differences:

  • Disorderly conduct usually involves public intoxication.
  • It doesn’t require actual victims to be disturbed.
  • It’s punishable by up to 6 months in jail.

So disorderly conduct is mainly being drunk and belligerent in public. Disturbing the peace is more about upsetting other people with obnoxious behavior. The penalties can overlap a lot.

Disturbing the Peace vs. Noise Complaints

Noise complaints are civil violations, while disturbing the peace is criminal. You can get fined for noise ordinance violations. But disturbing the peace means possible jail time.

Also, noise complaints are usually about loud music, parties, machinery, etc. Disturbing the peace also covers fighting words, belligerent behavior, and disrupting meetings. The main similarity is loud noise.

How We Can Help

Don’t try to navigate these disturbing the peace allegations alone. An experienced criminal defense lawyer can argue to get the charges reduced or dismissed. We know how to negotiate with judges and prosecutors effectively.

At our firm, you’ll work with a team dedicated to your defense. We have an impressive track record defending Penal Code 415 PC cases. Don’t leave this to chance – let us fight for your freedom and record.

For a free consultation, call us 24/7 at (555) 123-4567. Or contact us online to discuss your case. The sooner we get involved, the better.


California Penal Code 415 PC – California Legislative Information

415 PC – Disturbing The Peace Laws – Shouse California Law Group

Public Disturbance Laws –