We are taught that police officers deserve a certain amount of respect for the stressful and occasionally dangerous job they do every day. However, with the recent poor decision-making of some officers in the United States, that respect is becoming more difficult to willingly offer up. Furthermore, it can be hard not to argue with an officer when they being threatening or addressing you for doing something that isn’t a crime. Unfortunately, arguing with an officer shouldn’t technically be a crime, but it can be under the “catch-all” charge of disorderly conduct.
DISORDERLY CONDUCT OR FREE SPEECH?
Under the first amendment, your speech is afforded a certain amount of protection. This means that technically, you should be able to argue with a police officer without repercussions. However, the truth is that under the charge of disorderly conduct, you technically can be arrested for arguing or even being rude to a police officer, but usually the charge won’t stick.
If you were not actually committing a crime, but were arguing with a police officer and it resulted in arrest, usually the charges of disorderly conduct will be dropped. The officer may arrest you because you were being insulting to them, but usually that is just to put you in holding until you calm down. The first amendment technically protects cussing out cops as free speech. However, you need to be very careful because it can turn into a legitimate disorderly conduct charge if the right circumstances are met.
IN THE CASE OF “FIGHTING WORDS”
There are two situations in which a legitimate disorderly conduct charge can result from arguing and insulting a police officer. The first is the use of fighting words. The term “fighting words” can be difficult to define, but they are not protected by free speech. Typically they involve some threat of violence such as saying you will kill them or beat them. This is technically a threat, and will result in a legitimate disorderly conduct charge.
Furthermore, if you are arguing with a police officer and a crowd begins to form, trying to incite the crowd to violence or simply to argue will result in a legitimate disorderly conduct charge. If you make any attempt to incite the crowd, even if the officer wasn’t going to arrest you, they will likely have to.
WHAT TO DO WITH A DISORDERLY CONDUCT CHARGE FOR ARGUING?
In many cases of disorderly conduct charges from arguing with police, they won’t stick. Swear words are technically protected by free speech, and if there was no threat of violence or no effort to incite a crowd, then usually the charges easily fall away under the lightest pressure.
However, even if you think the charges won’t stick, you still need to act as if they might. Just letting things run their course without defending yourself is a recipe for disaster and could have you facing punishments that you don’t need to face. Furthermore, if the disorderly conduct charges were legitimate, and you do nothing, while punishments are of a misdemeanor level, you still don’t want a criminal record following you around.
This means that even if you think the charges will be dropped, you will still want to contact a lawyer. It is likely that your lawyer can help negate the charges faster and make sure you don’t end up with a criminal record.
If you are in Minnesota and have been arrested for disorderly conduct whether it was being rude to a police officer or another incident that can result in this charge, contact us today. The professionals at the Speas Law Firm are dedicated to fighting unfair charges so you don’t have to deal with unfair punishments.