What Is Disturbing the Peace (PC 415)? Defenses?
For those familiar with our criminal justice system, disturbing the peace can appropriately be called the “catch basin of minor offenses.” It is how a variety of low level charges are negotiated to a plea bargain to help a defendant avoid employment or immigration consequences or having a criminal record for a lapse of judgment.The Point of This Article: Disturbing the peace (Penal Code § 415) can be making a loud noise that annoys others, fighting in public or challenging another to a fight, or using “fighting words” likely to provoke an immediate, violent response. It can be charged as a misdemeanor or infraction, depending upon one’s prior history and the facts of the case.
For example, public intoxication, public urination (Penal Code § 314), criminal threats (Penal Code § 422), trespassing (Penal Code § 602), resisting arrest (Penal Code § 148(a)), lewd conduct in public (Penal Code § 647(a), prostitution or solicitation of prostitution (Penal Code § 647(b)) and sometimes minor shoplifting are often resolved for a charge of violating Penal Code § 415.
Disturbing the peace can be charged as either a misdemeanor or as an infraction. When an infraction is accepted by defendant, the consequences are usually just a monetary fine payable to the court clerk’s office.
A conviction for misdemeanor disturbing the peace carries with it a maximum sentence of ninety days in county jail and/or a $500 fine. It merits mention in this regard that most cases resolved via plea bargain for disturbing the peace do involve summary probation and no jail time. However, when the case is filed as a violation of Penal Code § 415 because the case facts do “fit” the statute, it is much more likely that jail time and a fine will be part of the disposition.
If the offense leads to a second conviction for disturbing the peace and the offense takes place on school property, there is a mandatory minimum county jail sentence of ten days in county jail to a maximum of six months, as well as a $1,000 fine. When the defendant is convicted a third or more time of violating § 415, he or she faces a minimum of ninety days in county jail and a maximum of six months in county jail, as well as a $1,000 fine.
For more information about disturbing the peace, click on the following articles:
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