Felony Disorderly Conduct Can Have Life Long Consequences
Disorderly Conduct charges in Arizona can be very serious charges and it can be charged in a number of ways. In fact, disorderly conduct can be charged for so many different actions that it is often referred to as a catch all charge. If law enforcement comes across conduct they believe (or believe it should be) illegal, they can almost always find a way to make it fit into the disorderly conduct statute. The Arizona statute that outlines how disorderly conduct can be charged, ARS 13-2904. While disorderly conduct charges can be charged as felony or misdemeanor charges, here we will take a closer look at felony disorderly conduct charges in Arizona.
What conduct constitutes felony disorderly conduct?
Again, disorderly conduct can be charged under two levels of seriousness, (1) as a class one misdemeanor and (2) as a class six felony. Let’s look at the ways that disorderly conduct charges can occur as a felony.
Arizona law says that a person commits disorderly conduct if, with intent to disturb the peace or quiet of a neighborhood, family or person, or with knowledge of doing so, such person recklessly handles, displays or discharges a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument. A first-time conviction of felony disorderly conduct is probation eligible and will usually receive a sentence of between 6 months an on and a half years in jail. That is, unless the charge is designated a dangerous offense (as discussed further below).
What is considered a dangerous instrument or deadly weapon?
To better understand what conduct is a violation of Arizona’s felony disorderly conduct law, let’s look at what the law defines as a dangerous instrument or deadly weapon. These definitions can be found in the definitions section of Title 13 of Arizona’s criminal code ARS 13-105.
“Dangerous instrument” means anything that under the circumstances in which it is used, attempted to be used or threatened to be used is readily capable of causing death or serious physical injury. As you can see, this definition doesn’t turn on what is being used, but on how it is used. This is different than a deadly weapon. “Deadly weapon” means anything designed for lethal use, including a firearm. The definition of deadly weapon turns on the intent behind the creation of the item.
Is disorderly conduct considered a “Dangerous Offense”?
It very well could be. Why does this matter? Well, offenses that are labeled “dangerous” have significantly harsher penalties and can be used against you for the rest of your life. “Dangerous offense” means an offense involving the discharge, use or threatening exhibition of a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument or the intentional or knowing infliction of serious physical injury on another person. As you probably have noticed, the definition of dangerous offense uses very similar language to felony disorderly conduct. It follows that felony disorderly conduct can often be charged as a dangerous offense.
If a person is convicted of a dangerous offense, they will have a harsher set of mandatory minimum sentences that apply. The sentencing guidelines for dangerous offenses can be found in ARS 13-704. Dangerous offenses are not probation eligible—even for a first time offense. Also, as of the time of writing this, dangerous offenses cannot be set aside or expunged in Arizona. Furthermore, a person may never have their gun rights restored following a conviction of a dangerous offense.
Can I be charged for felony disorderly conduct for something that was an accident?
The short answer is yes. The reason for that is because of the mental state requirement for felony disorderly conduct to legally occur. While the underlying language of disorderly conduct requires an intentional act or knowledge that the act will result in some outcome (“with intent to disturb the peace or quiet of a neighborhood, family or person, or with knowledge of doing so“) felony disorderly conduct in ARS 13-2904(A)(6) only requires that a person “recklessly” handle, display or discharge a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument. The definition for recklessly is also found in the definitions section of Title 13 of Arizona’s criminal code ARS 13-105.
Specifically, “’Recklessly‘ means, with respect to a result or to a circumstance described by a statute defining an offense, that a person is aware of and consciously disregards a substantial and unjustifiable risk that the result will occur or that the circumstance exists. The risk must be of such nature and degree that disregard of such risk constitutes a gross deviation from the standard of conduct that a reasonable person would observe in the situation. A person who creates such a risk but who is unaware of such risk solely by reason of voluntary intoxication also acts recklessly with respect to such risk.”
As you can see from this definition, a reckless act is quite different from an intentional act. While there is a lot to unpack in the definition, we can learn a lot by paying attention to the language that defines recklessly which states “The risk must be of such nature and degree that disregard of such risk constitutes a gross deviation from the standard of conduct that a reasonable person would observe in the situation.” There is a reasonableness standard here and it will ultimately be up to a jury at trial to determine what reasonable is.
Should I hire an attorney to handle my disorderly conduct case?
The answer is yes. Anyone facing criminal charges—especially felony charges— should consult with a criminal defense attorney to discuss their case. Felony disorderly conduct can have multiple life long consequences that most people are not aware of beyond probation or jail time. I am a passionate Arizona criminal defense who will sit down with you for no charge and go through your case to discuss the best next steps and possible strategies. I can be reached via text or call at (480) 363-0090 24/7 or you can send me a message and documents on our contact me page.