San Diego Criminal Defense Lawyer Explains PC 415

San Diego Disturbing the Peace Lawyer
Penal Code Section 415, disturbing the peace, is a broad statute that has frequently come under fire for vagueness, the possibility of arbitrary or discriminatory enforcement and for infringing on the First Amendment.  In essence, PC 415 punishes the following conduct: (1) unlawfully fighting or challenging someone to a fight in a public place, (2) willfully and maliciously disturbing others with loud noise, and (3) using offensive words, likely to provoke an immediate violent reaction in a public place.  Though not many people are arrested and charged with disturbing the peace, it is one of the most important sections of the penal code because of plea negotiations.

Disturbing the peace can be filed as a misdemeanor or as an infraction.  As a misdemeanor, it is punishable by up to 90 days in jail, up to five years of probation, and a fine of up to $400.  As an infraction, disturbing the peace will result in only a fine.  Whether a disturbing the peace matter is filed as a misdemeanor or infraction will depend on the conduct and the defendant's criminal history.  Though the penalties for disturbing the peace are not as severe as many other criminal offenses, it is important to avoid a criminal conviction wherever possible.  Consult with a San Diego Criminal Defense Lawyer about your case.

Disturbing the peace has many defenses.  Mistaken identity, false accusations, self-defense, lack of intent, and other common defenses to crimes will apply to disturbing the peace as well.  A defense that specifically applies to PC 415 is a First Amendment defense that the speech was not provocation, and is protected.  Each case is different and will have different defenses depending on the facts, the defendant, the available evidence, any rights violations and more.  Consult with a San Diego Criminal Defense Attorney about your possible defenses.


Because disturbing the peace is a broad offense, it can overlap with other offenses including public intoxication (PC 647(f)), battery (PC 242), criminal threats (PC 422), domestic violence (PC 243(e)(1) or 273.5), trespass (PC 602) and resisting arrest (PC 148).  Because disturbing the peace is punishable by less jail time than most misdemeanors, and does not look as bad on a criminal background check, PC 415 is a very common plea alternative to some of the above offenses.  For example, in a domestic violence case, it may be possible to get the prosecution to dismiss the domestic violence charges in exchange for a plea to disturbing the peace.  The disturbing the peace conviction will not look as bad, will not have negative immigration consequences and more.  Discuss the possibility of reducing your criminal charges to disturbing the peace or other alternatives.

If you or a loved one has been arrested or charged with a crime in San Diego, you need a passionate, aggressive, knowledgeable attorney on your side.  Contact us now for a Free Consultation with a San Diego Criminal Defense Attorney.  619-930-9515.

Nicholas M. Loncar, Esq.
San Diego Criminal Defense Attorney
San Diego DUI Lawyer
T: 619-930-9515
By Nicholas Loncar      


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