disorderly conduct

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Conduct that disturbs the peace, morals, or safety of the general public or of a class of people. In other words, behavior that causes others to become annoyed, alarmed, offended, inconvenienced, physically injured, or financially harmed. Examples of such behavior include, but are not limited to: being drunk in public, loitering, fighting, making loud or disturbing noise(s), making offensive expressions or gestures, and damaging public or private property.

The offense is a misdemeanor in most states and usually involves some public element or impact.

Related terms:

breach of the peace

criminal law

disorderly house


willful conduct

[Last updated in July of 2020 by the Wex Definitions Team]