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Orange County Disturbing the Peace Attorney

Disturbing the Peace

Many calls for police services begin with a public disturbance.  Someone may have a party where the music is too loud or the people at the party are too rowdy.  Once law enforcement arrive however, the disturbance leads to additional arrests that may be more serious.  However, where the disturbance is only that, a person can still be charged with committing an offense to the Penal Code.

Defense of Disturbing the Peace

As one can see below, there is more than once kind of “disturbing the peace.”  For the first section, any act of self-defense becomes a defense for purposes of the charge.  First the second clause, someone that never willfully and maliciously disturbed another person would have a defense against this charge.  Finally, the third prong of a 415 violation would have to be attacked on either one of its elements.  For example, the client will have to either negate all or any single one of “offensive words”, the nature of “common sense” as it applies to your jury, or the reasonableness of the person being provoked to react violently.

Law of Disturbing the Peace

The three types of disturbing the peace are fighting or challenging someone to fight, making loud or unreasonable noise, and using offensive words in a public area.


If a person willfully fights on public grounds when not acting in self defense, he or she may be charged with disturbing the peace (Penal Code § 415(1)).


Likewise, if someone willfully and maliciously disturbs another person by causing loud and unreasonable noise on public grounds, he or she may be charged with disturbing the peace (Penal Code § 415(2)). If this act is not committed with the intention to annoy or injure someone, or there is no apparent danger of violence, however, this might not fall under the charge of disturbing the peace.


If a person uses offensive words that are, according to common sense, likely to provoke a violent response, he or she can be charged with disturbing the peace (Penal Code § 415(3)).


There must be a clear and present danger that when the person makes the statement using the offensive words, the other person might erupt into violence.