Disorderly Conduct Charges in Hawaii

You can be charged with a petty misdemeanor for disorderly conduct if you intend to cause physical inconvenience or alarm or recklessly cause inconvenience or alarm by:

  • Fighting, making threats, or engaging in violent or tumultuous behavior;
  • Making unreasonable noises;
  • Subjecting another person to offensive behavior or abusive language that’s probably meant to provoke a violent response;
  • Creating a hazard or physically offensive condition; or
  • Impeding or obstructing any person in public or a place open to the public to beg.

Examples of Disorderly Conduct

You could be charged with disorderly conduct if you:

  • Were drunk in public and generally being loud, offensive, or threatening.
  • You were loudly and aggressively berating a stranger using offensive language, such as racist, sexist, or other bigoted slurs.
  • You urinated or defecated in a public place in front of others.
  • You were loitering in a public space, making it difficult for people to pass, and asking for money.

You likely won’t be charged with disorderly conduct if your behavior or noise is accidental or for a brief time. But if your behavior is significant and ongoing, an officer is more likely to arrest you. A prosecutor will charge you if they believe they can prove you were trying to cause substantial harm or serious inconvenience.

It matters whether you were warned or asked to stop, too. If other people in the area asked you to stop your behavior or turn down the noise, and you refused, this increases your chance of being arrested and charged.

Hawaii Noise Laws

What makes a noise unreasonable? It’s whether or not your noise is very different – a gross deviation – from the normal standard of conduct of an average law-abiding person in that situation. This standard considers the general circumstances, like the location, time, and day. What’s fine in one place, like Friday night on a rowdy street with lots of bars, might not be fine in another, like a quiet neighborhood on Monday morning. It considers the purpose and nature of your noise. You’re not going to get in trouble for loudly calling for help or calling attention to an emergency.

Another standard is if you’re told to stop or lower the volume of the noise by a police officer, and you fail to do so.

You don’t have to be in public to get in trouble for noise, either. The unreasonable noise can come from a home, apartment, or hotel room. The law says, if you’re the owner-occupant, renter, or resident of premises, and you knowingly or negligently allow unreasonable noises on your premises, then you’re guilty of a noise violation.

What About Free Speech?

You might wonder whether this law impinges on your constitutional right to free speech. Freedom of speech has several legal limits, though. This is one of them. You might not get away with using offensive or abusive language against someone in public.

Hawaii’s disorderly conduct law is a balancing act. When does heated language go too far? As a disorderly conduct lawyer, Michael Fayard knows your language and conduct have to go very far before you can be convicted of a crime. Being passionate, loud, or even rude isn’t criminal conduct. You should hire a lawyer and fight hard against a prosecutor who wants to make your words a crime.

Did You Harm or Inconvenience the Public?

Who was harmed or inconvenienced? This law is meant to protect the public. In other places, it’s known as disturbing the peace. The prosecutor has to prove you meant to harm or inconvenience one or more members of the public. If your actions were against one specific individual, you’d probably be charged with a different crime, like assault.

Also, if your actions only annoyed the police, it’s not disorderly conduct. As law enforcement officers, they’re trained and meant to deal with difficult situations.


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Is Disorderly Conduct Always a Misdemeanor?

No, disorderly conduct can be reduced to a violation if you weren’t trying to cause substantial harm or serious inconvenience, and you weren’t previously asked to stop your behavior.

Disorderly Conduct Punishment

Disorderly conduct can be a violation, which isn’t a crime. You won’t have a criminal record or be jailed. Usually, you’ll have to pay a fine.

When disorderly conduct is a petty misdemeanor, you can spend up to 30 days in jail and pay fines up to $1,000. This is a crime and will give you a permanent criminal record.

How to Get a Disorderly Conduct Charge Dropped

At first glance, it seems like the disorderly conduct law covers a lot of rowdy behavior. But that’s why it’s important to hire a criminal defense lawyer. The statute creates a high standard for prosecutors to reach. But without a lawyer, no one’s there to force the prosecutor to really do their job.

As your attorney, Michael Fayard will thoroughly review what happened, including talking with witnesses. Since this behavior needs to offend the public, there should be members of the public to interview. After a thorough investigation, Fayard will attack one or more elements of the charge.

The prosecutor must prove several things:

  • Your intent or recklessness: You intended to cause serious harm or inconvenience, or you recklessly ignored the risk of causing harm or inconvenience.
  • Offense to the public: At least one member of the public would have been alarmed, offended, or harmed somehow.
  • Disorderly behavior: You were reasonable for unreasonable noise, fighting, offensive or obscene language, a hazard, or obstruction. Your conduct must be significantly different from what’s common at that time and place.

Proving each one of those elements can be difficult, especially when you have a disorderly conduct lawyer finding holes and weaknesses in the prosecutor’s case. Michael Fayard knows how to frame the situation in such a way that it is unreasonable for you to be convicted of a crime. He might file a motion to dismiss and ask the judge to put an end to the case right away.

He is relentless to ensure his clients are well taken care of.”

- Cliff T

Related Charges

The behavior that could lead to a disorderly conduct charge could also lead to other charges if the circumstances are slightly different. Call Michael Fayard if you’re charged with:

Call a Disorderly Conduct Lawyer for Help Today

Most of us have said or done something in public we regret, especially after too much alcohol at dinner or during a big game. You should take responsibility for your actions, but that doesn’t mean you deserve a criminal record. Work with Michael Fayard to defend against disorderly conduct or related charges. He’ll fight to beat these charges and keep your record clean.

To set up a free consultation, call (808) 445-6708 or use the online form.