Disturbing the Public Peace | CA PC 403


California has seen its share of riots and assemblies, so it’s important for this state to have strong laws related to maintaining the public peace. While there are laws in relation to rioting and other mass disturbance issues, a person can be charged with disturbing the public peace for much less severe behaviors. The penalties in these cases can sometimes be intense, and this is especially true if additional charges are also brought. This is why it’s important to fully understand public disturbance statutes.

What is disturbing the Public Peace?

Disturbing the public peace is, defined under California state law, a misdemeanor. There are several ways in which a person may violate this crime. Anyone who engages in an unlawful fight in public, for instance, is guilty of disturbing the peace. In addition, even challenging a person to fight in public can lead to this charge.

In addition, anyone who willfully and maliciously disturbs another person with unreasonable and loud noise can be charged with disturbing the peace. Finally, even using offensive words while out in public can end in this serious charge. The prosecutor only has to show that these words could’ve likely caused an “immediate violent reaction.”

Bail Amounts for Disturbing the Public Peace

The penalties for violating public peace laws are set by the State and thus apply all over California, however the bail amounts can vary greatly depending on the location in which you are charged. For example, in San Diego County, the bail schedule lists disturbing the public peace as a bailable offense at $250. In San Luis Obispo County, on the other hand, bail amounts can range from $164 for infractions to $2,000 for misdemeanor public disturbance charges. Ventura County doesn’t even list the offense on their bail schedule, but the crime is bailable as a misdemeanor at $2,500.

A Bail Hotline agent can easily research this information for you and also post a bond for just a small fraction of the price you would have to cover on your own. The maximum agency fee allowed by California law is a mere 10% of the face bail amount.

Possible Penalties for a Conviction

Penalties related to disturbing the public peace can be severe, and this is especially true in certain circumstances. Simply for violating the law, without any additional charges, a person can face a $400 fine and up to three months in jail. Unfortunately, since fighting in public can obviously also lead to battery charges, these penalties can easily increase.

Additionally, depending on where the disturbance occurred, such as in a school or state university, the consequences of a conviction can increase if prior convictions have occurred. A person convicted of a second disturbance on these school properties, for instance, could face up to six months in jail.

Disturbing the public peace is a crime that is taken very seriously in the state of California. Even in the absence of any harm to person or property, an individual convicted of this crime can still face jail time and serious fines. Because of these potential penalties, it’s important for a person to secure their release as soon as possible, and then find an attorney who is willing to help. These two decisions may have long lasting impact on a person’s life. 

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