The first amendment of the United States Constitution grants us the freedom of speech. It also provides the right to assemble peaceably. Laws which unduly restrict these freedoms are unconstitutional and therefore unenforceable. However, some limited restrictions of our first amendment rights are permitted.
This is because certain types of speech and assembly are not constitutionally protected. Some of the restrictions on these rights are in disorderly conduct ordinances. If you are facing charges of disorderly conduct, speak with a professional attorney.
A Sandy Springs disorderly conduct lawyer could fight a disorderly conduct charge by arguing the alleged behavior did not meet the criteria contained in the ordinance or the actions were constitutionally protected.
Actions that Can be Disorderly Conduct
Subpart A, Chapter 38, Article III, Division 1, Section 38-54 of the Sandy Springs Code of Ordinances lists twelve kinds of behavior that may constitute disorderly conduct. Some of them include:
- Act in a violent or tumultuous manner toward another whereby any person is placed in fear of the safety of such person’s life limb or health
- Cause, provoke or engage in any fight, brawl or riotous conduct
- Direct fighting words toward another
- Interfere, by acts of physical obstruction, with another’s pursuit of a lawful occupation
- Assemble or congregate with another or others for the purpose of gaming
What are Considered Fighting Words in Sandy Springs?
Section 38-4 defines fighting words as those which by their very nature tend to incite an immediate breach of the peace. This is similar language as that used by the Supreme Court in determining that fighting words were not constitutionally protected free speech.
Fighting words must be so offensive that the first amendment interest in protecting them is clearly outweighed by the social interest in order and morality. A Sandy Springs disorderly conduct lawyer could give more detail into to the impact of fighting words on a case.
Disorderly Conduct vs Assault
One criterion for disorderly conduct is acting in a violent or tumultuous manner which places another person in fear for their safety. The definition of assault, however, is to intentionally place someone in apprehension of imminent harm. Disorderly Conduct does not require that a person intentionally act. Furthermore, it does not require the fear of harm is imminent.
For these reasons, the police may charge a person with disorderly conduct whom they feel is bothering others but whose actions are not serious enough that they amount to assault.
This also means that disorderly conduct is much more subjective than assault. If an individual was behaving in a harmless but boisterous manner, for example, it only requires that someone fear for their safety for the police to have the power to charge the person with disorderly conduct. Speak with a Sandy Springs disorderly conduct lawyer to learn more.
How a Sandy Springs Disorderly Conduct Attorney Can Help
Not all forms of speech and public assembly are protected by the Constitution. Sandy Springs has an interest in keeping the peace and it has the right to do so. The courts must strike a balance in prohibiting speech. A Sandy Springs disorderly conduct lawyer could help tip that balance in your favor if you are unfairly facing charges of disorderly conduct.
Not all behavior resulting in a disorderly conduct charge meets the standard set forth in the Sandy Springs Ordinance. The ordinance is often vague and its tests are subjective. A Sandy Springs disorderly conduct attorney could fight for the best possible solution for your charges.