Disturbing the Peace

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Disturbing the Peace (PC 415):

Several ways a person can violate California’s “disturbing the peace” law is by: Unlawfully fighting, or challenging another in a fight, in a public place, willfully and maliciously disturbing the peace by loud and unreasonable noise, and/or using offensive words in public so as to provoke violence.

Penalties (PC 415):

Depending on the circumstances of the case, the prosecutor may charge PC 415 as a misdemeanor or a less-serious infraction. In more serious cases, a person may serve up to 90 days in county jail and/or pay fines up to $400.

Legal Defenses (PC 415):

It is often difficult for prosecutors to prove that a person violated California’s “disturbing the peace” statute, making it easier for our criminal defense attorneys to help you avoid a conviction.

Under California Penal Code 415, it is illegal for a person to do any of the following:

  1. Unlawfully fight in a public place or challenge another person in a public place to fight;
  2. Maliciously and willfully disturb another person by loud and unreasonable noise; or
  3. Use offensive words in a public place which are inherently likely to provoke an immediate, violent reaction.

Actions that can result in a disturbing the peace charge include challenging another person to a physical fight in a bar, playing music at a high volume to disturb your neighbors and repeatedly using racial or ethnic slurs in a verbal confrontation.