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.
Disorderly Conduct in Illinois
Illinois includes several unlawful behaviors within its disorderly conduct statutes (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 Illinois, you may be arrested for disorderly conduct if you act in a way that reasonably alarms or disturbs someone else. This includes transmitting a false call for police help, fire alarm, bomb alert, or similar false warnings or calls for help. It also includes “peeping” at someone who has a reasonable expectation for privacy (such as someone using the restroom or in a changing room, and also peering into someone’s private home when uninvited to do so).
Unlawful assembly is a similar crime, and includes inciting or participating in disorderly conduct with 11 or more other people (when at least one is armed), or at least 29 others (armed or unarmed). Such conduct is considered an unlawful assembly, as is refusing to disperse after a request by law enforcement.
(720 Ill. Comp. Stat. Ann. § 26-1 & 20 Ill. Comp. Stat. Ann. § 1805/86.)
Penalties for Disorderly Conduct
In Illinois, penalties for disorderly conduct vary according to the severity of the offensive conduct. They may include as little as a fine of up to $1,500, up to 30 days in jail and up to two years' probation, or both; or as much as a fine of up to $2,500, and up to ten years in prison. Penalties may increase for second and subsequent violations.
Failure to disperse from an unlawful assembly is a Class A misdemeanor, which incurs a fine of up to $2,500, up to one year in jail, or both.
Getting Legal Advice
Even though misdemeanor offenses often seem as if they aren’t serious, you face significant potential penalties in Illinois if you are convicted of any crime, even a misdemeanor. You should always consult an experienced Illinois 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.