In Kansas, the crime of disorderly conduct, also called disturbing the peace or breach of the peace, can cover a range of things – from fighting to inciting a riot to falsely reporting a fire. The common thread of disorderly conduct is that it is behavior that is likely to upset, anger, or annoy others. There is a lot of variation among state laws and municipal regulations governing disorderly conduct, but they all criminalize behavior that threatens public order or tranquility.
For more general information on the crime of disorderly conduct, see Disorderly Conduct Laws and Penalties.
Under Kansas’s laws, a person commits the crime of disorderly conduct by doing any of the following:
- disturbing a lawful assembly or meeting, or
- using “fighting words” or engaging in noisy conduct likely to upset others.
Fighting words are anything likely to cause the listener to react in a violent way. For example, racial epithets can be fighting words. A person that belligerently yells insults and racial epithets in a crowded bar could be prosecuted and convicted for disorderly conduct.
(Kan. Stat. Ann. § 21-6203.)
Riot and Unlawful Assembly
In Kansas, it is a crime to participate in a riot (five or more people acting together to use or threaten force or violence). It is also a crime to:
- incite or urge others to engage in a riot under circumstances that create a danger of injury, property damage, or breach of the peace
- participate in an unlawful assembly (a meeting of five or more people with the intent to commit a riot or engage in disorderly conduct), or
- fail to obey a law enforcement officer’s order to depart from an unlawful assembly.
For example, a dozen members of an animal rights group that stand outside a university and threaten scientists with violence could be prosecuted for participating in a riot or unlawful assembly. If their ringleader encourages them to physically attack scientists or trash their labs, the ringleader could be prosecuted for inciting a riot.
(Kan. Stat. Ann. §§ 21-6201, 21-6202.)
It is also a crime in Kansas to call police, the fire department, or any other emergency responder, knowing that there is no need for the responder’s services. For example, a teenager who calls the police and falsely reports a crime as a joke could be prosecuted and convicted for false alarm.
(Kan. Stat. Ann. § 21-6207.)
It is illegal in Kansas to consume alcohol or be intoxicated in public place (except in certain licensed establishments or events).
For more information, see Kansas Public Intoxication Laws.
Disorderly conduct is a class C misdemeanor, punishable by up to one month in jail and a fine of up to $500. Participating in a riot, failure to disperse, and false alarm are all class A misdemeanors, punishable by up to one year in county jail and a fine of up to $2,500. Participating in an unlawful assembly is a class B misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.
Inciting a riot is a severity level 8 felony, punishable by seven to 23 months’ imprisonment and a fine of up to $100,000. For felony sentencing, Kansas uses a complicated grid system that takes into account the severity of the crime and defendant's criminal history, if any.
For more information on felony sentencing, see Kansas Felony Crimes by Class and Sentences.
(Kan. Stat. Ann. §§ 21-6201, 21-6202, 21-6203, 21-6207, 21-6602, 21-6611.)
Obtaining Legal Assistance
A conviction for disorderly conduct, while sometimes based on seemingly innocent conduct, can have serious consequences, including time in jail and a criminal record. If you are charged with disorderly conduct or a similar crime, you should talk to a Kansas criminal defense attorney. An attorney can explain your options and tell you if you are in a good position to make a deal or go to trial and what kind of sentence you can expect if convicted. Even if you are charged with a seemingly minor offense, it is always a good idea to talk to an experienced criminal defense attorney.