Possibly the two most common crimes we see charged in Darien, Stamford, Greenwich, New Canaan and elsewhere in Fairfield County are 53a-181 Breach of Peace in the Second Degree and 53a-182 Disorderly Conduct. These are low-level misdemeanors that can arise from harmless conduct such as getting into a shoving match, mouthing off to a police officer or public servant or employee, sticking your middle finger up at someone, or participating in a legal, peaceful political protest. Yet as the best Stamford criminal lawyers and attorneys will inform you, once you are charged with either of these misdemeanors, your criminal history record can be permanently impacted, tainting your background checks for employment, housing, lending activity, and immigration.
So how can you quickly and cost-effectively fight these charges and erase them from your record? Sometimes it can be very easy–here’s how…
To get arrested for Breach of Peace CGS § 53a-181, you must be accused of first having the intent to cause alarm, annoyance or inconvenience to another person and that acting with such intent, you (1) use obscene or verbally abusive language, (2) assault, strike, or threaten another individual, or (3) exhibit or display offensive or indecent material. It’s a Class C misdemeanor, punishable by up to 3 months in jail. As you can quickly glean from the language of this statute, what constitutes “annoyance” or “inconvenience” certainly evokes a broad, subjective standard. Thus the loose language of this misdemeanor opens the door for Greenwich and Stamford police to make 53a-181 Breach of Peace arrest with relative ease.
The same goes for Disorderly Conduct CGS § 53a-182, which is a Class B misdemeanor, punishable by up to 6 months in jail. This crime—which most top Stamford domestic violence lawyers would agree is the most frequently charged domestic violence crime—accuses someone of engaging in fighting or tumultuous, violent or threatening conduct. Again, this is very loose, broad, and subjective language that can easily be applied to a variety of scenarios.
We often see these charges filed against our clients when there is some sort of escalated confrontation among two or more people. It could be a verbal argument. A fight. A melee. A Connecticut road rage incident. We also often see these charges in New Canaan, Darien, Greenwich, or Stamford, Connecticut domestic violence arrests where Disorderly Conduct and Breach of Peace charges are one of the charges that are filed. Whatever scenario it is, police don’t take chances and usually don’t give warnings for fear that retaliation or revenge violence will ensure if the courts don’t get involved.
The first step in fighting 53a-181 Breach of Peace and 53a-182 Disorderly Conduct arrests and charges in Stamford, Greenwich and Fairfield County is to hire a top Stamford criminal lawyer. Then make sure your lawyer objects to any unreasonable or onerous conditions of release at your arraignment. Often the prosecutors and judge will act very cautiously and conservatively when dealing with these charges and impose some or all of the following conditions: anger management, drug / alcohol counseling, or restraining orders protecting alleged victims or businesses. You also may see representatives from the Office of the Victim Advocate appear at your arraignment to represent the victim’s position to the court. Sometimes these alleged victims will even hire a criminal lawyer to put additional pressure on a judge or prosecutor to prosecute you. Finally, if you are involved in 53a-181 Breach of Peace or 53a-182 Disorderly Conduct domestic violence case, then you will be arraigned the very next business day and one of three types of restraining / protective orders will almost certainly be orders: a full no contact order, a full (or residential stay-away order), or a partial protective order.
There are several ways for you to fight your 53a-181 Breach of Peace and 53a-182 Disorderly Conduct charges. Top criminal Disorderly Conduct lawyers in Connecticut will often try to negotiate a disposition with prosecutors that will both give the prosecution assurances that the you are not a physical or emotional threat to the victim and community, and will also not cause you to have any blemishes or crimes on your record.
While there are sometimes first-time offenders programs available to you to help you get these charges dismissed, the best criminal lawyers in Stamford, Greenwich and Darien will often first explore and exhaust alternatives to these programs in order to get your case dismissed. The thought process is not to burn these valuable programs on minor charges like 53a-181 Breach of Peace and 53a-182 Disorderly Conduct. Sometimes you will have no choice, but it is worth a few rounds of pre-trial negotiations with the prosecutors to try to save these programs for something more serious. Alternatively, we have sometimes reached out to victims and tried to mediate the dispute out of court in order to resolve the conflict and then we try to convince the court that the dispute is now behind all parties involved. Many times law enforcement encourages this and will look favorably on this, resulting in the ultimate dismissal of your case.
So no matter who handles your disorderly conduct or breach of peace case, know that you have the ability fight these charges. The Mark Sherman Law team of Stamford-based criminal lawyers have years of experience in fighting these charges. Our “two-attorney” review system makes sure your police reports are examined carefully for defects and constitutional violations. Call us today at (203) 358-4700.