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Sahn Law Firm - Attorneys at Law

What is Public Disorderly Conduct in South Carolina?

Public Disorderly Conduct in South Carolina is a “catch-all” charge that police officers often use to charge someone with a crime when nothing else really fits the alleged activity.

South Carolina state law specifies three main ways someone can be charged with public disorderly conduct:

  1. Public intoxication (drunk in a public place) or behaving in a disorderly or boisterous manner.
  2. Using obscene or profane language on a highway or at any public place, or within hearing distance of a school or church
  3. Firing any kind of gun or firearm within 50 yards of any public road while intoxicated or pretending to be intoxicated, except on your own property, without a justifiable cause

Always consider consulting a professional criminal defense attorney in South Carolina.

Disturbing The Peace

Disorderly conduct is also known as disturbing the peace. In South Carolina, disorderly conduct is described as public behavior that can upset, anger, or even annoy other people. An example of a public place can be a grocery store, park, or street. A privately-owned business can also be considered a public place, especially if it’s a retail store or restaurant. Basically, a public place is an area that is open to everyone. If someone yells at another person at a store, parking lot, or other public domain, it can be considered disorderly conduct. Using obscene words and actions that could cause a fight is also in line with disturbing the peace and disorderly conduct. Actions such as the ones previously mentioned can get the person creating the disturbance to be arrested and charged with public disorderly conduct. If you have been arrested and charged with disorderly conduct, it is wise to contact a Charleston, SC disorderly conduct attorney right away.

Not only is it an offense to yell obscenities, use vulgar language, or start a fight in public, in South Carolina, it is also a crime to disturb a religious service or meeting at a church or meeting place. Anyone who uses offensive language or appears intoxicated can be charged with disorderly conduct due to disturbing religious worship.

Many have argued that disorderly conduct laws infringe upon the First Amendment of free speech. Since disorderly conduct laws can be broad and vague, people have claimed that it hinders them from practicing their constitutional rights. However, using words that are considered “fighting words” that could likely provoke violence, are not protected by the First Amendment. Such speech is not constitutionally protected and can be deemed disorderly conduct. Contacting a Charleston, SC disorderly conduct attorney to help against disturbing the peace or disorderly conduct charges is essential. Your Charleston, SC disorderly conduct attorney can determine the best course of action for your case.

Defense Options For Disorderly Conduct

If a person is charged and convicted with disorderly conduct, even if it’s a misdemeanor, that conviction will be present on a criminal record. Misdemeanor charges may be considered a minor crime, but the fact is that it is still a crime. Having a disorderly conduct misdemeanor on a criminal record can affect a person’s personal life, career, and future opportunities. It is expedient to seek the counsel of a knowledgeable Charleston, SC disorderly conduct attorney, as soon as an arrest or charge has been made. Your Charleston, SC disorderly conduct attorney will be able to defend and protect your rights.

Even if you were arrested and charged with disorderly conduct, you have the right to defense. And, there are defenses to disorderly conduct charges that your Charleston, SC disorderly conduct attorney can employ. For instance, if a person was loud and obnoxious, and offended someone in public, it does not automatically indicate that they caused disorderly conduct. If obscenity and profanity were not used during that time, freedom of speech could be argued as a defense. Sometimes, people get arrested for disorderly conduct when there is no basis for the charge, and simply because a person was loudly expressing themselves, it does not warrant a conviction. Self-defense and medical conditions can also be valid defenses.

What Is Considered A Public Place?

In SC, a public place can include a number of different places, including highways, parking lots, public parks, sidewalks, public gatherings, and much more. Public places can also include privately owned property that is open to the public, such as stadiums, hospitals, malls, offices, bars, and restaurants.

Are Public Disorderly Conduct And Public Intoxication Classified As Misdemeanors Or Felonies?

Both Public Disorderly Conduct and Public Intoxication are classified as misdemeanors that carry up to 30 days in jail and/or a fine if convicted. They will also show up a criminal background check. A criminal defense and DUI attorney in South Carolina can guide you better.

What Happens When You Get A Public Intoxication Charge? Will You Be Arrested?

Being arrested and charged with public intoxication can have serious penalties and consequences. The charge of Public Intoxication (also called “Drunk in Public”) is a misdemeanor that carries up to 30 days in jail, if convicted. A Public Intoxication charge can result in being arrested and taken into custody by the police.

Are There Defenses To Public Intoxication?

Like any other criminal offense, there are defenses to a Public Intoxication charge. In order to be convicted of public intoxication, it must be proven that a person either was, or appeared to be, drunk, or under the influence of drugs, while in public (or in the public’s view). When defending this charge, a person’s attorney can generally try to prove that they weren’t drunk or under the influence, and only appeared to be due to innocent reasons. Another way to defeat a Public Intoxication charge is by proving a person wasn’t actually in public. Additionally, like other criminal charges, your attorney can try to prove that the arresting/citing officer did not have probable cause to make the stop.

What Are The Laws In South Carolina For Having An Open Container Of Alcohol In Public?

South Carolina’s open container law generally prohibits possession in public of open containers of beer, wine, or liquor. South Carolina also generally prohibits open containers in motor vehicles on public highways and prohibits transporting open containers of alcoholic beverages in a motor vehicle.

What About In A Vehicle?

It’s unlawful for a person to possess an open container of beer or wine in a motor vehicle that’s located on a public highway. However, there are exceptions:

Trunk and luggage compartments. Beer or wine in an open container can lawfully be kept in the trunk or luggage compartment of a motor vehicle.

Parked vehicles during functions. The open container law doesn’t apply to parked vehicles in legal parking places during functions where law enforcement officers are performing traffic control duties.

What Are Penalties For Convictions Of Such Offenses In South Carolina?

A person who possesses beer or wine in an open container in a motor vehicle commits a misdemeanor. A conviction will result in a fine or up to 30 days in jail. Further, if convicted, this charge will go on your criminal record.

For more information on Public Disorderly Conduct In South Carolina, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (843) 856-2222 today.

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Sahn Law Firm - Attorneys at Law, located in Charleston, South Carolina, provides representation throughout Charleston, North Charleston, Mount Pleasant, Summerville, Goose Creek, Moncks Corner, Daniel Island, Sullivan's Island, Georgetown, St. George, Hanahan, Santee, Isle of Palms, Folly Beach and Beaufort. The firm also represents people in the municipalities of Charleston County, Dorchester County, Berkeley County, Georgetown County, Clarendon County and Beaufort County.

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