Disorderly Conduct for Fighting

Dedicated Phoenix Criminal Lawyer Defending Clients Charged With Disturbing the Peace

One little-known fact about Arizona law is that while you can’t be found guilty of assault for fighting someone with their consent, you can still be charged with disorderly conduct. However, getting into a mutual fight won’t always result in criminal charges because the state must prove that you intended to disturb the peace or at least knew you were doing so.

At the Law Office of James E. Novak, our Phoenix criminal defense lawyer has extensive experience defending clients charged with disorderly conduct for fighting. We have successfully handled countless cases involving clients who didn’t plan on getting into a fight and later found themselves facing criminal charges.

Can You Be Charged With Disorderly Conduct for Fighting?

Yes, prosecutors can charge you with disorderly conduct for fighting. Under Arizona Revised Statutes § 13-2904, “engaging in fighting, violent or seriously disruptive behavior” is considered a Class 1 misdemeanor.

However, just because you’ve been charged with disorderly conduct doesn’t mean that a judge or jury can convict you. Arizona’s disorderly conduct law is crystal clear that the prosecution must establish that you acted “with intent to disturb the peace or quiet of a neighborhood, family or person, or with knowledge of doing so.”

Thus, while heading into a bar with the intention of picking a fight with someone else may give rise to disorderly conduct charges; if a fight suddenly occurs without warning or planning, it’s less likely that prosecutors will be able to meet their burden.

What is the Punishment for Disorderly Conduct for Fighting?

If you get into a fight and are later charged with disorderly conduct, the offense will be a Class 1 misdemeanor. In Arizona, Class 1 misdemeanors are punishable by up to 6 months in jail and a fine of up to $2,500.

Watch Out – Prosecutors Tend to Add Charges

For those without much of a criminal history, a conviction for disorderly conduct is unlikely to land you in jail. However, if you are on probation or have a significant record, the judge could sentence you to a jail sentence. Additionally, prosecutors will typically overcharge these cases in hopes that you’ll plead out to less serious disorderly conduct charges.

Here’s an example:

Johnny breaks up with his girlfriend, Sally. Sally starts dating Johnny’s best friend, Tim. Johnny doesn’t like the thought of Sally being with Tim and starts to pick a fight with him. One day, at a mutual friend’s house, the two men fight. It starts inside, but eventually Tim brings the fight out into the front yard. The neighbors call the police. Neither man was seriously hurt, but Tim ended up with a split lip and a black eye.

Prosecutors charged Johnny with disorderly conduct for fighting, assault, and aggravated assault . Tim doesn’t hold any ill will towards Johnny and doesn’t want him getting into legal trouble over the ordeal. Knowing that Tim isn’t going to be a star witness, the prosecutors offer Johnny—who doesn’t have a criminal record—a deal by allowing him to plead guilty to disorderly conduct for fighting. What should Johnny do?

This puts Johnny in a tough spot. On one hand, he’s confident he can beat the assault and aggravated assault charges because the fight was mutual. On the other, he wants to preserve his clean record.

This is where having an experienced Phoenix disorderly conduct lawyer comes into play. For example, in this situation, we might try to leverage Tim’s positive relationship by getting Tim to ask the prosecution to withdraw the charges under A.R.S. § 13-3981, which allows the court to dismiss a case if the victim puts on the record that they have been made whole outside the criminal process.

Another option would be for Johnny to take the case to trial in hopes of beating all charges. In terms of the disorderly conduct offense, he may argue that the fight started inside, and he was not the one to bring it outside.

Are You Facing Disorderly Conduct Charges?

If you’ve been arrested on disorderly conduct charges for fighting, you may have one or more defenses that can prevent a conviction from being added to your record. At the Law Office of James E. Novak, our clients regularly call upon our Phoenix disorderly conduct lawyer to help them get out from under these charges. Attorney Novak is known for developing creative strategies and defenses designed to minimize the impact your arrest has on the rest of your life and is immediately available to meet with you to discuss your case. To learn more and to schedule a free consultation with our Phoenix criminal defense lawyer today, call 480-413-1499. You can also reach us through our secure online contact form.

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