There are many ways that you can get charged with disorderly conduct in our state. Some that you probably don’t even realize. However, here’s one that you probably never would have imagined: dressing up like a dinosaur and scaring horses.
Yes, you read that correctly, and it’s a real story. This one comes from our neighbors to the south, but it sounds so surreal that we had to share it.
Apparently, just a few weeks ago in Charleston, a woman put on an orange Tyrannosaurus Rex costume and stood close to where a horse-drawn carriage was passing with tourists. As they approached, she growled at them, spooking the horses. As a result, the driver fell, and his leg was injured when the carriage rolled over it.
She fled the scene… but later turned herself in to police.
The owner of the carriage company believes that the woman was an animal activist protesting the carriage rides, but police have not offered a reason for her actions.
For her actions, the woman was charged with “disorderly conduct and wearing a mask or disguise.”
Now, admittedly your chances of getting charged for wearing a dinosaur costume and spooking horses are probably small. However, the strange story seemed like a good opportunity to look at our state’s disorderly conduct law and talk about some of the more common reasons you might find yourself facing the charge.
Reasons People Get Disorderly Conduct Charges in North Carolina
The length of our disorderly conduct statute gives you a good sense of just how complicated and confusing the law can be – it’s 858 hundred words and covers eight different reasons someone can face charges.
We don’t want to spend that long on it here, so we’ll try to break it down for you in the simplest possible terms. You may face disorderly conduct charges if you engage in an intentional public disturbance involving any of the following:
- Fighting or other violent conduct
- Conduct that creates the threat of imminent fighting or violence
- Making a display, using a gesture, or saying something “abusive” that is likely to provoke others to violently retaliate (basically, doing something to instigate violence)
- Taking control of any building or facility belonging to any public or private educational institution without their permission
- Refusing to leave any building or facility belonging to any public or private educational institution if ordered to do so by 1) those in charge of the institution, 2) a fireman or public health officer, 3) a law enforcement officer when an emergency is occurring or imminent.
- Positioning your body or congregating with others in such a way as to impede people from using any facility or building of any public or private educational institution in the way it was intended after authorized representatives have already forbidden you from doing so.
- Engaging in conduct on or adjacent to any public or private educational institution that interferes with teaching. This includes doing this on public school buses and private school activity buses.
- Interfering with or disrupting any religious assembly or service.
- Interfering with, disrupting, threatening participants, or trying to block the events associated with any type of funeral or memorial service within a certain distance and time period designated under the law.
As you can see, even our “simplified” version covers a lot of ground and can’t hope to get into the nuances defined under the law. Basically, don’t act in a violent manner, instigate violence in others, ignore peace and health officers, or prevent the regular workings of any educational or religious institution.
Want to learn more about disorderly conduct charges and what you can do to beat them? Get in contact with our office, and we’ll be happy to go over the specifics of your case.
About the Author:
Jan Elliott Pritchett is Managing Partner at the Law Firm of Schlosser & Pritchett and one of North Carolina’s top rated criminal defense attorneys. With a practice dedicated 100% to litigation, Mr. Pritchett protects the legal rights of clients who have been charged in federal and state criminal matters, as well as DUI/DWi, motor vehicle accidents, personal injury, and traffic violations. In practice since 1995, Mr. Pritchett has earned a reputation as a highly talented and fearless lawyer, being listed among the state’s “Legal Elite” and recognized as one of the Top 100 DWI Lawyers in North Carolina by the National Advocacy of DUI Defense. He currently serves as the Co-Chairman of the North Carolina State Board of Legal Specialization, Criminal Law Specialty, and Vice-Chairman of the North Carolina Bar Association, Criminal Justice Section.