disorderly conduct

Disorderly Conduct | What is Disorderly Conduct in Texas?

What is disorderly conduct in Texas?

vulgar language

Disorderly conduct is a criminal offense that is defined in Texas Penal Code Section 42.01 that prohibits offensive gestures, language that incites a breach of peace, unreasonable odors, threats, fights, noises, and other offensive activities.

 Other common examples of disorderly conduct include: exposing your genitals or anus in a reckless manner disregarding anyone who may see you, or peeking into someone else’s private residence, hotel, restroom or shower stall designed for privacy.

What is the punishment for disorderly conduct in Texas?

A disorderly conduct charge is generally a Class C misdemeanor.

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However, two disorderly conduct charges are Class B misdemeanors in Texas. They both involve firearms. Discharging a firearm in a public place or across a public road can land you in jail for up to six months and up to a $10,000 fine.

There is an affirmative defense to threatening a person if the accused had significant provocation for the threat. There are affirmative defenses for individuals charged with discharging a firearm if the firearm was discharged out of a reasonable fear of bodily injury by a wild animal.

Should you hire a criminal defense firm or a ticket attorney?

While we generally leave Class C matters to “ticket attorneys,” every year we handle a handful of Class C charges when the charge is from the Tarrant-Dallas area, and the recipient of the citation is a professional or university student who is interested in not only the outcome of the citation but also in a future expunction.

There are three ways to avoid a conviction for a Class C citation in Texas. Our first goal is to resolve the ticket through a dismissal, acquittal, or in another fashion that makes the citation expunction-eligible. We also talk to our clients about their expunction possibilities and how quickly they can get an expunction. This varies based on jurisdiction.

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Call us at (817) 203-2220 for a complimentary strategy session. Our team of former prosecutors and Board Certified Criminal Lawyers are here to help. During this call we will:

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  • Discuss the legal issues involved, including the direct and collateral consequences of the allegation; and
  • Discuss the defenses that apply to your plan and in general terms discuss our approach to your case.

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Penal Code 42.01

(a)  A person commits an offense if he intentionally or knowingly:

(1)  uses abusive, indecent, profane, or vulgar language in a public place, and the language by its very utterance tends to incite an immediate breach of the peace;

(2)  makes an offensive gesture or display in a public place, and the gesture or display tends to incite an immediate breach of the peace;

(3)  creates, by chemical means, a noxious and unreasonable odor in a public place;

(4)  abuses or threatens a person in a public place in an obviously offensive manner;

(5)  makes unreasonable noise in a public place other than a sport shooting range, as defined by Section 250.001, Local Government Code, or in or near a private residence that he has no right to occupy;

(6)  fights with another in a public place;

(7)  discharges a firearm in a public place other than a public road or a sport shooting range, as defined by Section 250.001, Local Government Code;

(8)  displays a firearm or other deadly weapon in a public place in a manner calculated to alarm;

(9)  discharges a firearm on or across a public road;

(10)  exposes his anus or genitals in a public place and is reckless about whether another may be present who will be offended or alarmed by his act;  or

(11)  for a lewd or unlawful purpose:

(A)  enters on the property of another and looks into a dwelling on the property through any window or other opening in the dwelling;

(B)  while on the premises of a hotel or comparable establishment, looks into a guest room not the person’s own through a window or other opening in the room;  or

(C)  while on the premises of a public place, looks into an area such as a restroom or shower stall or changing or dressing room that is designed to provide privacy to a person using the area.

(b)  It is a defense to prosecution under Subsection (a)(4) that the actor had significant provocation for his abusive or threatening conduct.

(c)  For purposes of this section:

(1)  an act is deemed to occur in a public place or near a private residence if it produces its offensive or proscribed consequences in the public place or near a private residence;  and

(2)  a noise is presumed to be unreasonable if the noise exceeds a decibel level of 85 after the person making the noise receives notice from a magistrate or peace officer that the noise is a public nuisance.

(d)  An offense under this section is a Class C misdemeanor unless committed under Subsection (a)(7) or (a)(8), in which event it is a Class B misdemeanor.

(e)  It is a defense to prosecution for an offense under Subsection (a)(7) or (9) that the person who discharged the firearm had a reasonable fear of bodily injury to the person or to another by a dangerous wild animal as defined by Section 822.101, Health and Safety Code.

(f)  Subsections (a)(1), (2), (3), (5), and (6) do not apply to a person who, at the time the person engaged in conduct prohibited under the applicable subdivision, was a student in the sixth grade or a lower grade level, and the prohibited conduct occurred at a public school campus during regular school hours.


Benson Varghese

Managing Partner at Varghese Summersett PLLC
Benson Varghese is the founder and Managing Partner of Varghese Summersett PLLC. He is a prolific writer and has authored hundreds of articles about criminal law in Texas and at the Federal level. His articles have been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Above the Law, and have been selected as Top Blogs by the State Bar of Texas. He was named the Young Lawyer of the Year in 2019 by the Tarrant County Bar Association. Benson led the firm to become one of the 500 fastest growing businesses in the United States by Inc 500 Magazine in 2018. In the same year, the firm was named the Best Law Firm in Fort Worth by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. The lawyers at Varghese Summersett PLLC exclusively handle criminal defense matters.
Benson Varghese