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Understanding disorderly conduct laws in Minnesota

Disorderly conduct, also known as disturbing the peace, is a criminal offense in Minnesota. Laws against offensive and disruptive behaviors exist to keep communities peaceful. Someone who annoys, upsets or disturbs the public may face harsh criminal penalties. 

But what constitutes disorderly conduct and what are the penalties for it? Here is how disorderly conduct is described and treated under Minnesota law.

Disorderly conduct behaviors and punishments

According to Minnesota criminal statutes, behaviors that fall under disorderly conduct include the following:

  • Fighting or brawling
  • Disrupting a lawful meeting or gathering
  • Engaging in obscene, offensive, abusive or noisy conduct or language that reasonably angers or alarms other people

Disorderly conduct carries maximum punishments of a fine of $1,000 and six months in jail. But there are more severe punishments if a caregiver commits disorderly conduct against a vulnerable adult. A caregiver may face a fine of $3,000 and one year in jail.

Rioting and unlawful assembly

Another law related to disorderly conduct concerns riot or illegal gatherings. According to Minnesota riot laws, a riot constitutes at least three people who gather to threaten or use violence, force or cause property damage. Rioting is punishable by a fine of $1,000 and one year in jail. The penalties increase significantly if the riot involves armed weapons and/or deaths. Repercussions can be as severe as a fine of $35,000 and 20 years of imprisonment.

Potential defenses

Anyone facing charges for disorderly conduct or rioting may be able to challenge the charges, getting them reduced or dropped. A common defense is simply lack of intent. A disorderly conduct conviction requires the intention to disturb or annoy others. In instances of fighting, the defendant may be able to claim he or she was acting in self-defense. Free speech may be an element of defense in certain cases. Additionally, it is important to know that disorderly conduct punishments do not apply to someone who is annoying or disturbing others because of an epileptic seizure. 

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