As I've written about in other posts, DUI arrests commonly involve multiple offenses. In fact, many cases involve DUI and Disorderly Conduct charges.
Disorderly Conduct in Georgia
The Georgia Code outlines the different ways that a person can commit the offense of disorderly conduct in Georgia.
A person commits the offense of disorderly conduct when such person commits any of the following:
- Acts in a violent or tumultuous manner toward another person whereby such person is placed in reasonable fear of the safety of such person's life, limb, or health;
- Acts in a violent or tumultuous manner toward another person whereby the property of such person is placed in danger of being damaged or destroyed;
- Without provocation, uses to or of another person in such other person's presence, opprobrious or abusive words which by their very utterance tend to incite to an immediate breach of the peace, that is to say, words which as a matter of common knowledge and under ordinary circumstances will, when used to or of another person in such other person's presence, naturally tend to provoke violent resentment, that is, words commonly called "fighting words"; or
- Without provocation, uses obscene and vulgar or profane language in the presence of or by telephone to a person under the age of 14 years which threatens an immediate breach of the peace. O.C.G.A. §16-11-39.
Disorderly conduct occurs usually because people are concerned and upset at the idea of being arrested. Most people forget that the officer has a job to do or that he is worried about what could happen during the investigation or arrest process.
Passengers can also be charged with obstruction in DUI cases. Both drivers and passengers tend to get overwhelmed and upset when pulled over by officers. Above all things, an officer is entitled to ensure his own safety and the safety of others and the general public.
Disorderly Conduct in Georgia is considered a misdemeanor offense. This means that the penalty can include up to 12 months in jail and a fine up to $1,000. The judge also has the option to sentence a person to a period of probation instead as well as a fines, community service, or even an alcohol awareness class.
However, as a Georgia DUI Lawyer, I've noticed that officers' expectations have become too high, and disorderly conduct charges are starting to be unwarrantably given.
Disorderly conduct is basically a “catchall” provision for officers who don't appreciate how someone is behaving during an arrest or an investigation. Some officers even utilize this charge to teach people a lesson.
Moreover, most jurisdictions have a local ordinance that encompasses the same conduct as disorderly conduct. Most of the time for the accused, this is a good thing. Local city ordinances and county ordinances carry less consequences then state law offenses. Additionally, local ordinances are considered “non-finger printable offenses.” As a result, Georgia DUI Attorneys try to get disorderly conduct reduced to the local ordinance equivalent. The result is no criminal record.
However, a few jurisdictions tell their police officers to charge people with the local ordinance version of many state law offenses, including but not limited to disorderly conduct, drug possession, soliciting for prostitution, and shoplifting.
The reason they choose what would otherwise be a less serious offense is to cause the accused to lose their right to a jury trial in a higher court. Then, the judge (who is paid by the same municipality that pays the police officer and the prosecutor) will find the accused guilty and sentence him or her to for more than they would have received in the higher court.
For example, this practice is used in Sandy Springs to sentence people convicted of solicitation for prostitution to a minimum of 60 days in jail. The same change in Fulton County State Court would at most result in a same fine and probation.
If you or a loved one has been charged with a DUI or Disorderly Conduct or both in Georgia, you need a Georgia DUI Lawyer to best defend your case. A conviction for Disorderly Conduct can greatly add to your Georgia DUI Penalties if you are also found guilty of DUI. This is why it is so important for you to contact us today. You have options, and there are alternative outcomes. Our lawyers can see what Georgia DUI Defenses apply to your particular case.