If you are facing a Chicago disorderly conduct case, this guide will help answer most of your questions. The information comes from me, Chris Shepherd, a Chicago disorderly conduct lawyer with over ten years of experience helping people either eliminate or control the damage disorderly conduct cases can cause.
What Are the Basics of Disorderly Conduct in Chicago?
Disorderly conduct is a police favorite because it can be used to describe almost any action that they find personally disagreeable. While there are many types of disorderly conduct, the most common type, and the one you are probably charged with, is “simple” disorderly conduct under Illinois law. If so, you are being accused of committing an act that “alarms, disturbs or provokes the peace.” 720 ILCS 5/26-1(a).
The other less common possibility is that you are charged with disorderly conduct under Chicago law. If that is the case, you have a hearing date set at 400 w. Superior and a ticket with the numbers 8-4-010 on it. Such charges are punishable by a conviction and a $500 fine.
Simple disorderly conduct is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a $1500 fine. But, if this is your first offense and you are charged with simple disorderly conduct, it is highly unlikely that you will serve jail time, even if you are found guilty.
Rather, the threat to someone charged with disorderly conduct in Illinois is the damage to the person's record from a conviction or guilty plea. Employers routinely use background checks to review job applications. Do you want to have that conversation with a potential employer? You may not even get the chance to explain yourself; the person reviewing applications may simply throw yours in the trash because they have a hundred other applicants with clean backgrounds.
Do I have any settlement options?
I understand that controlling costs and minimizing risks is a priority. Maybe you don't have a great defense to your disorderly conduct case or simply want to put the case behind you as quickly as possible while still keeping your record clean. This is where settlement negotiations come into play. A good Chicago disorderly conduct lawyer knows that the first court date is a perfect opportunity to explore a deal with prosecutors. It can't hurt and, if approached firmly but respectfully, it often helps. Preliminary negotiations on or before the first court are an opportunity to achieve the client's goals without the risk and expense of fighting.
The success of this depends on a lot of factors: your background, the courthouse you are in, the court room you are in, the prosecutor on duty that day and the nature and circumstances of your case. For more, read my page on Your Settlement Options.
How to Beat a Chicago Disorderly Conduct Case
The great thing about disorderly conduct cases is that they are rich with legal and technical defenses that may apply in your case. For example, because the crime is so broadly defined, it is sometimes difficult for the accuser, whether policeman or private citizen, to prove you did anything more than annoy or talk back to them. “Talking back” is not only perfectly legal, it's protected by the First Amendment.
There is also a presumption in Illinois law that police cannot be provoked into a breach of the peace. If the alleged victim of your disorderly conduct is a police officer, many times this type of case can be dismissed as improper.
These are just examples of the two most common ways to beat a disorderly conduct case. There are many, many more legal and technical defense that can beat disorderly conduct cases in Chicago.
Call for a Free and Confidential Consultation
While every criminal case follows a predictable procedural pattern, each individual case has its own unique strengths and weaknesses. Reading this guide is a good first start on the road to making an intelligent decision, but there's no substitute for a conversation about your options.
I offer a free and confidential 15-minute consultation to discuss your goals and options. Call me at 312.396.4112 or contact me online.