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Disorderly Conduct

Does the disorderly conduct statute make you criminally responsible for the reaction of other people?
Does the disorderly conduct statute make you criminally responsible for the reaction of other people?

Disorderly conduct is a misdemeanor charge with a disturbing history.

Historically some police officers abused their discretion, to charge people who offended them with this offense.

Assert your rights, politely.  Say: “I choose to remain silent until I can consult an attorney, officer.

And then, remain silent.

But follow police instructions about your physical movements.

And don’t make any statements or consent to any searches until after consulting a defense attorney.

Common types of Minnesota disorderly conduct charges include:
  1. Police officer witness.  A personality conflict between an individual and a police officer may lead to a disorderly conduct (disturb the peace) charge.  The claim made by the police officer is the basis for the charge.  So here, the police officer is a participant, not an impartial third-party witness.
  2. Disorderly conduct as a lesser included, add-on charge, along with an assault, or domestic assault, charge.
  3. Disorderly conduct with a motor vehicle.  Minnesota police officers sometimes write up people for these charges in traffic accidents.  These include allegations of rude or unsafe driving conduct.  But they can also concern drivers angry about other drivers’ dangerous, negligent or unsafe driving conduct.  People often call these cases road rage claims.  The police officer typically is not a witness, arrives after the fact and gathers hearsay statements.

Minnesota Disorderly Conduct Lawyer

Lawyer Thomas C Gallagher has been a defending clients in these cases in Minnesota for over 30 years.  Gallagher is Minneapolis Criminal Defense Attorney.

Most of the people charged have a clean record and would like to keep it that way.  But help from a good Disorderly Conduct Lawyer like Gallagher can make the difference for you.


The criminal defenses available in Minnesota criminal cases generally are also available in disorderly conduct cases.  Often the defense is that the prohibited conduct never happened.  After all, the complaining party may have mistakenly perceived events through an emotional filter, or have an axe to grind.

Self-defense can be an affirmative defense in these cases. See our: Self-defense and The Other.

And the First Amendment can be a defense, for example in protester cases.

The Statute:

Minnesota Statutes Section 609.72,  Subdivision 1.  Crime.  “Whoever does any of the following in a public or private place, including on a school bus, knowing, or having reasonable grounds to know that it will, or will tend to, alarm, anger or disturb others or provoke an assault or breach of the peace, is guilty of disorderly conduct, which is a misdemeanor:

(1) engages in brawling or fighting; or
(2) disturbs an assembly or meeting, not unlawful in its character [See Note below.]; or
(3) engages in offensive, obscene, abusive, boisterous, or noisy conduct or in offensive, obscene, or abusive language tending reasonably to arouse alarm, anger, or resentment in others. …

Subd. 3.  Caregiver; A caregiver, … who violates the provisions of subdivision 1 against a vulnerable adult, …may be sentenced to imprisonment for not more than one year or to payment of a fine of not more than $3,000, or both.”

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NOTE: The Minnesota Supreme Court held Subdivision 1, clause (2), unconstitutional under the First Amendment, because it is substantially overbroad. State v. Hensel, 901 N.W.2d 166 (Minn. 2017).

Have a question about a Minnesota Disorderly Conduct case?  Call Minneapolis Criminal Lawyer Thomas C. Gallagher at 612 333-1500