Disorderly Conduct Charges in Hawaii Explained

Disorderly Conduct Charges in Hawaii Explained

Living in Hawaii is a dream for many people. With its beautiful beaches, laidback lifestyle, and friendly locals, it’s no wonder this island paradise attracts visitors from all over the world. But even in paradise, people sometimes get into trouble with the law. One of the most common criminal offenses charged in Hawaii is disorderly conduct.

If you’ve been arrested for disorderly conduct, you probably have a lot of questions. What exactly is disorderly conduct in Hawaii? What are the penalties? Will I have a criminal record? This article will explain disorderly conduct laws in Hawaii, typical penalties, and defense strategies that could help get your charges reduced or dismissed.

What is Disorderly Conduct in Hawaii?

Hawaii’s disorderly conduct law is found in Section 711-1101 of the Hawaii Revised Statutes. Under this law, disorderly conduct occurs when someone:

  • Engages in fighting or threatening behavior
  • Makes unreasonable noise
  • Uses abusive language likely to provoke violence
  • Creates a hazardous or offensive condition
  • Obstructs others from walking in public places

The key is that the behavior has to be done “with intent to cause physical inconvenience or alarm.” Just accidentally doing something obnoxious isn’t enough – the person has to intend to disturb or scare others.

Disorderly Conduct Penalties

In Hawaii, disorderly conduct is a petty misdemeanor. This is a minor criminal offense, but it can still carry penalties such as:

  • Up to 30 days in jail
  • Fines up to $1,000
  • Probation
  • Anger management or substance abuse counseling
  • Community service

Jail time is rare for a first offense, but repeat disorderly conduct convictions could result in some time behind bars. Fines and probation are more common sentences.

Having a disorderly conduct conviction also creates a criminal record that could impact future employment, housing, or other opportunities. It’s important to fight the charges and try to avoid conviction.

Defenses Against Disorderly Conduct Charges

There are several legal defenses that could get your disorderly conduct charges reduced or dismissed in Hawaii. A knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer will evaluate the facts of your case and identify the best defense strategies. Some possible defenses include:

You didn’t have the required intent. One defense is that you didn’t actually intend to cause public alarm or inconvenience. For example, maybe you were having a loud argument with your spouse without realizing neighbors could hear. Or perhaps you were playing music you didn’t realize was too noisy. If your actions weren’t intentional, it weakens the prosecution’s case.

Your actions were justified. Disorderly conduct requires the behavior to be unjustified under the circumstances. But sometimes there are good reasons for disturbances, like self-defense or responding to an emergency. An experienced attorney can argue your actions were legally justified.

Misidentification. Eyewitnesses often make mistakes, especially when recalling chaotic events like bar fights. If the prosecution’s witnesses incorrectly identified you as the perpetrator, your attorney can challenge the reliability of their testimony.

Lack of evidence. Disorderly conduct charges often rely heavily on witness statements. But if the prosecution lacks solid proof you actually engaged in threatening or disruptive behavior, the charges could potentially get dismissed.

Free speech. The First Amendment protects your right to free speech, even if it offends others. Yelling obscenities or arguing with someone usually doesn’t qualify as disorderly conduct if it doesn’t provoke immediate violence.

An attorney familiar with Hawaii disorderly conduct laws will know how to build the strongest defense by focusing on the weak points in the prosecution’s case against you.

What to Do If You’re Charged with Disorderly Conduct

Here are some tips if you’ve been arrested for disorderly conduct in Hawaii:

  • Remain silent and ask for a lawyer. Don’t try to explain yourself to police. That can only hurt your case later on. Politely decline to answer questions and say you want to speak with an attorney.
  • Hire an experienced criminal defense lawyer. Don’t go it alone against the criminal justice system. A qualified disorderly conduct attorney knows how to get charges reduced or dismissed.
  • Gather evidence in your defense. Write down exactly what happened while it’s still fresh in your mind. Ask witnesses who saw the incident to write statements on your behalf. Collect any videos, photos, receipts, or other evidence that could help your case.
  • Consider alternatives to conviction. In some cases, disorderly conduct charges can be resolved through pretrial diversion programs, community service, counseling, or other alternatives that leave you without a criminal record.
  • Don’t miss court dates. If you miss a court hearing, the judge may issue a warrant for your arrest. Stay on top of your case and make sure your lawyer knows how to reach you.

Disorderly conduct seems like a minor charge, but it can still carry life-changing consequences. With so much at stake, it’s critical to have an experienced Hawaii disorderly conduct lawyer on your side. Don’t leave your future to chance – get the strong legal defense you deserve.