Fighting breach of peace charges just got easier in Connecticut.
Talk to any of the best criminal defense lawyers attorneys in Greenwich, Stamford or Darien Connecticut, and they will likely agree that the Connecticut crime of Breach of Peace Second Degree under C.G.S. 53a-181 is a vague crime which can actually get you arrested in Connecticut for using abusive or obscene language.
But is a foul mouth all it takes to get locked up?
Yes..that is, until our Supreme Court got involved this Summer.
Prior to the Connecticut Supreme Court’s landmark ruling in State of Connecticut v. Nina Baccala, if you had the intent to cause someone “annoyance, inconvenience, or alarm” and you used obscene language, then you could get arrested in Connecticut for Breach of Peace Second Degree.
But the Supreme Court looked closely at this statute and changed the rules regarding enforcement, prosecutions, and arrests for Breach of Peace Second Degree under CGS 53a-181.
The Court made the following ruling: that no matter how profane someone is with their language, it is not arrest-worthy, is not criminal and it is not a breach of the peace under the Connecticut code, if the language is not accompanied with a verbal or physical threat.
Following that law, many of the best Connecticut criminal lawyers began pushing back against Connecticut breach of peace arrests, rather than just applying their clients for diversionary programs like the Accelerated Rehabilitation Program. For more on fighting a Breach of Peace Second Degree arrest in Stamford or Greenwich Connecticut, click here.
A closer read of the Supreme Court’s decision can really help you and the best Connecticut criminal defense lawyers fight your breach of peace arrest in the Stamford, Norwalk and Bridgeport courthouses.
The Supreme Court summed it up best in protecting an individual’s First Amendment right to lay into someone with profanities. The Supreme Court said that in order for profanities to be criminal, the tirade must be “akin to dropping a match into a pool of gasoline” – meaning the words must be combined with conduct that is threatening and violent.
This ruling refines what is known to top Connecticut criminal lawyers as the “fighting words” exception to the First Amendment defense, meaning that uttering words that are aggressive and promote violence can be criminal and lead to Breach of Peace misdemeanor arrests.
The Baccala decision takes this idea further by ruling that uttering a profanity or offensive word is not a crime unless it tends to provoke a reasonable person in the recipient’s position to “immediately retaliate with violence.” (This suggests that uttering an offensive racial slur while raising a fist or weapon would definitely be considered a crime).
So if you want to know how to fight your Connecticut arrest for Breach of Peace Second Degree CGS 53a-181 in the Norwalk, Stamford, Danbury or Bridgeport Connecticut criminal courthouses, then contact one of the Mark Sherman Law criminal lawyers today. Our entire team keeps up to date with our Connecticut Supreme Court and Appellate Court decisions that impact our client’s cases.