In California, there are a few ways in which a person could be charged with disturbing the peace. First, a person could challenge another person to a fight in a public place. Second, an individual could cause a disturbance by making or creating noise at a loud or unreasonable level. Additionally, someone who uses language that is considered to be offensive could be charged with disturbing the peace.
To charge someone with disturbing the peace for using offensive language, a prosecutor would need to show that the words were likely to incite violence. In the event that a disturbing the peace charge is related to a fight, a prosecutor only has to show that a challenge was made. No fight has to take place for a person to potentially be convicted of the charge.
Those who are convicted of disturbing the peace could face a fine of up to $400 and a jail sentence of up to 90 days. There are defenses to the charge, including a claim of self-defense. An individual may also claim that he or she was entrapped by police or that the behavior of a police officer resulted in an action that led to the charge. Disturbing the peace may also be allowed if doing so prevents a worse crime from occurring.
Individuals who are charged with this type of a misdemeanor may want to have an attorney to help with their cases. An attorney may create a defense to the charge, such as an individual acting in self-defense against a physical or verbal assault when a fight occurred. This may result in a charge being reduced or dropped. Therefore, a defendant might avoid jail time or other penalties associated with a misdemeanor charge.