Robert T. Ruth has been a Wisconsin disorderly conduct defense lawyer since 1993. There are many potential challenges to a Wisconsin disorderly conduct charge, so it pays to retain an experienced Wisconsin criminal defense attorney to defend you.
Wisconsin Disorderly Conduct
Disorderly conduct, a Class B misdemeanor punishable by up to 90 days in jail and up to a $1,000 fine, is a common criminal charge in Wisconsin. It is a charge that the police often use to take control of a situation or to assert their authority. Disorderly conduct is often the charge when the police are called to a domestic disturbance and no one is injured. A wide variety of conduct may qualify as disorderly conduct under the Wisconsin law. Disorderly conduct is defined in section 947.01 of the Wisconsin criminal law as follows:
Whoever, in a public or private place, engages in violent, abusive, indecent, profane, boisterous, unreasonably loud or otherwise disorderly conduct under circumstances in which the conduct tends to cause or provoke a disturbance is guilty of a Class B misdemeanor.
What if No One Was Disturbed?
It is important to note that whether a person was disturbed is not necessarily the critical question. This concept is often misunderstood by police. For example, if two people are in a dispute, the police will ask the first person if he or she was disturbed by the second person’s yelling. When the first person says that he or she was disturbed by the yelling, the police arrest the second person for disorderly conduct. The question is not whether a particular person was disturbed, however. The question is whether the yelling or other conduct, under the particular circumstances of the case, was the sort of conduct that tends to provoke a disturbance. In others words, just because a particularly sensitive person was disturbed, does not necessarily render conduct disorderly. Virtually all of the conduct named in the disorderly conduct statute is the sort of conduct that, under certain circumstances, is legal and appropriate.
What Happens if I am Arrested For Disorderly Conduct?
In a domestic situation, most arrests for disorderly conduct include a trip to the jail. If the arrest only involves misdemeanor charges, you will have a chance to post a bond that night. If you cannot post bond or the arrest includes a felony, you have to sit in jail until you appear before a judge to set bond. In a non-domestic situation, the officer may just issue a misdemeanor citation with a court date on it. Do not think that this is merely a ticket. If it says "Wisconsin Uniform Misdemeanor Citation," it is a criminal charge and you or your attorney will need to appear in court at the date on the citation. Failure to appear means the judge will issue a warrant for you.
The officer may inform you of a 72 hour no contact provision. This means that you may not have any contact with the person identified on the form for 72 hours. Any contact in violation of this order is a separate crime. The first court is called the initial appearance. You usually receive a complaint at the initial appearance that tells you what you are charged with and the basic facts alleged in the case. The judge also sets bond conditions at the initial appearance. You will have an opportunity to be heard on the proposed bond conditions. If the judge sets a signature bond, previously posted money will be returned.
No Contact Order
In many domestic cases the prosecution asks for a bond condition that prohibits contact with the alleged victim and or no contact with the alleged victim's residence. If you have a no contact order, even if the alleged victim is a spouse or lives in the same house, you bear the burden of staying away from the person. If you have a no contact condition and have contact with the forbidden person, you are the one who gets in trouble. No contact orders, particularly when this prevents you from returning to your home, can create a substantial hardship. If you are in a position to hire a lawyer in a criminal case, sooner is almost always better that later. In a domestic case, however, where there is a risk that the state will request a no contact order, it is particularly important to have a lawyer at the bond hearing to fight the request for a no contact order.