Ohio has a number of different laws that prohibit disruptive and alarming behavior. Examples of disorderly conduct (also called "disturbing the peace") include making verbal threats, fighting in public, interrupting gatherings, and being drunk and disorderly in public. Ohio also has laws against rioting, obstructing emergency services, and making false alarms. Penalties for these offenses vary depending on the conduct involved and the risk of harm.
Ohio's disorderly conduct crimes break down into two categories: disrupting the peace and drunk and disorderly.
Under Ohio's laws, people commit the crime of disorderly conduct when they inconvenience, annoy, or alarm others by:
For example, urinating on a public street in full view of others could be considered disorderly conduct, as could screaming curse words and generally making a scene in a restaurant after being asked to leave.
Disorderly conduct also includes acts by voluntarily intoxicated individuals that:
For instance, a drunken person who climbs up onto the top of a tall sculpture, endangering himself and possibly damaging the sculpture, could be convicted of disorderly conduct. In contrast, two people who get drunk and pass out in their own home are not guilty of any crime so long as their behavior does not pose a risk to themselves or anyone else.
Disorderly conduct is a minor misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of up to $150. However, the crime becomes a misdemeanor in the fourth degree, punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a fine of up to $250, in the following instances:
A person convicted of a fourth or subsequent drunk-and-disorderly offense also faces a misdemeanor in the fourth degree.
Ohio also prohibits the following acts that disturb or breach the peace:
Penalties for these crimes range from a minor misdemeanor to a misdemeanor in the first degree.
If you're facing disorderly conduct or related criminal charges, talk to a criminal defense attorney in your area. Being convicted of even a misdemeanor can result in fines and jail times, and you could also have difficulty securing future employment or passing a background check. An attorney can tell you what consequences are likely, what to expect in court based on the charges and the assigned judge and prosecutor, and how to present the strongest possible defense.
(Ohio Rev. Code §§ 2719.03, 2719.04, 2719.11, 2719.12, 2719.13, 2719.32 (2022).)