Disorderly Conduct in Ohio

Learn what conduct can result in disorderly conduct charges and penalties in Ohio.

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.

What Is Disorderly Conduct in Ohio?

Ohio's disorderly conduct crimes break down into two categories: disrupting the peace and drunk and disorderly.

Disrupting the Peace

Under Ohio's laws, people commit the crime of disorderly conduct when they inconvenience, annoy, or alarm others by:

  • fighting, threatening others with injury or property damage, or engaging in other violent behavior
  • making excessive noise
  • saying anything offensive or abusive, or making an obscene gesture
  • insulting or taunting someone when it is likely to provoke a violent response
  • blocking pedestrian or vehicular traffic without good reason, or
  • creating an offensive or dangerous condition without good reason

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.

Drunk and Disorderly

Disorderly conduct also includes acts by voluntarily intoxicated individuals that:

  • risk harm to themselves, others, or other's property, or
  • are likely to offend, inconvenience, scare, or annoy others, while being in a public place or in the presence of two or more people.

    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.

    What Is the Punishment for Disorderly Conduct in Ohio?

    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:

    • the defendant continues the conduct after being asked or warned to stop
    • the conduct occurs at or near a school or in an emergency room, or
    • the conduct occurs in the presence of a law enforcement officer, a firefighter, medical personnel, or any person responding to an emergency.

    A person convicted of a fourth or subsequent drunk-and-disorderly offense also faces a misdemeanor in the fourth degree.

    Other Ohio Crimes Relating to Disruption or Breach of the Peace

    Ohio also prohibits the following acts that disturb or breach the peace:

    • disrupting a lawful meeting, procession, or gathering by interrupting the proceedings, or making or doing something obscene or offensive
    • hampering any official response to an emergency or failing to obey an officer's order at the scene of a fire, accident, disaster, riot, or emergency
    • reporting a fire, explosion, crime, or other catastrophe that the defendant knows is false
    • participating in a riot, or
    • failing to disperse upon police or public official orders.

    Penalties for these crimes range from a minor misdemeanor to a misdemeanor in the first degree.

    Obtaining Legal Assistance

    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).)

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