Disorderly conduct laws differ significantly among states and municipalities, and the type of conduct covered by these laws and ordinances is quite broad. States typically categorize disorderly conduct (sometimes also called “disturbing the peace,” or “breach of the peace”) as any behavior that is likely to cause other people alarm, anger, annoyance, or an increased likelihood to engage in unlawful activity.
To learn more about disorderly conduct in general, see Disorderly Conduct Laws and Penalties.
Alabama categorizes disorderly conduct into five offenses (although other charges, such as for public intoxication, may also apply).
To learn more about public intoxication and drunk in public crimes in each state, see Public Intoxication Laws and Penalties, and click the link to your state in the section entitled, “Public Intoxication Laws by State.”
In Alabama, disorderly conduct includes engaging in fighting, violent, or threatening behavior; making an unreasonable noise, using abusive or obscene language, or making an obscene gesture in a public place. The offense also includes unlawfully disturbing a lawful public assembly or meeting; obstructing vehicular or pedestrian traffic; or congregating with one or more other people in public and refusing to comply with a lawful police order to disperse.
Disorderly conduct is a class C misdemeanor, and penalties include a fine of up to $500, up to three months in jail, or both.
(Al. Code 1975 § 13A-11-7.)
This offense includes assembling with five or more other people for the purpose of rioting, or remaining with such a group that has already begun to riot. A riot includes engaging in unlawful threatening or tumultuous behavior that intentionally or recklessly creates a serious risk of public alarm or terror.
Unlawful assembly is a class B misdemeanor. Penalties include a fine of up to $3,000, up to six months in jail, or both.
(Al. Code 1975 § 13A-11-5.)
Failure of disorderly persons to disperse includes participating with five or more other people in disorderly conduct that is likely to cause substantial harm or serious inconvenience or alarm, and intentionally refusing to disperse when legally ordered to do so by a law enforcement officer.
This offense is a class B misdemeanor, and penalties include a fine of up to $3,000, up to six months in jail, or both.
(Al. Code 1975 § 13A-11-6.)
Harassment occurs when someone shoves, hits, kicks, or otherwise touches another person; or utters abusive or obscene language, or makes an obscene gesture towards another person with the intent of annoying or alarming that person. It also includes making a verbal or nonverbal threat--with the intent to carry out the threat--that would cause a reasonable person to fear for his safety.
Harassment is a class C misdemeanor, and penalties include a fine of up to $500, up to three months in jail, or both.
(Al. Code 1975 § 13A-11-8.)
Publishing a libel—a printed falsity about someone else—that may tend to provoke a breach of the peace may be punished as a class C misdemeanor. Penalties include a fine of up to $500, up to three months in jail, or both.
(Al. Code 1975 § 13A-11-8.)
Even though misdemeanor offences often seem like they aren’t serious, you face significant potential penalties in Alabama if you are convicted of any crime, even a misdemeanor. You should always consult an experienced Alabama criminal defense lawyer if you have been charged with a crime, have been approached by the police as a target of an investigation, or need legal advice. Only a local attorney who has dealt with local law enforcement and prosecutors can give you advice about your case.