A Decatur woman recently stood trial for Disorderly Conduct under Georgia’s state law. The defendant, Donetta Foster, took the stand to testify on Wednesday, according to a story on Channel 2 news. Ms. Foster’s disorderly charge stems from a November 2010 incident where she allegedly got into an argument with a DeKalb County police officer after her 14 month-old son was making too much noise at a local library. Parts of the incident were captured on the officer’s dash cam, and were played at her trial in the DeKalb County state court. As with any Georgia misdemeanor charge, Ms. Foster faced up to a year in jail.
Ms. Foster was, in fact, found guilty and sentenced to 12 months probation, and will have to perform 40 hours of community service. Foster is also required to attend at her cost three parenting classes, three child impact classes, three Alternative Path for Women classes and one day-long intensive anger management class.
Remember, Ms. Foster was arrested for yelling at a police officer in a library.
Section 16-11-39 Disorderly conduct
(a) A person commits the offense of disorderly conduct when such person commits any of the following:
(1) Acts in a violent or tumultuous manner toward another person whereby such person is placed in reasonable fear of the safety of such person’s life, limb, or health;
(2) Acts in a violent or tumultuous manner toward another person whereby the property of such person is placed in danger of being damaged or destroyed;
(3) Without provocation, uses to or of another person in such other person’s presence, opprobrious or abusive words which by their very utterance tend to incite to an immediate breach of the peace, that is to say, words which as a matter of common knowledge and under ordinary circumstances will, when used to or of another person in such other person’s presence, naturally tend to provoke violent resentment, that is, words commonly called “fighting words”; or
(4) Without provocation, uses obscene and vulgar or profane language in the presence of or by telephone to a person under the age of 14 years which threatens an immediate breach of the peace.
(b) Any person who commits the offense of disorderly conduct shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.
(c) This Code section shall not be deemed or construed to affect or limit the powers of counties or municipal corporations to adopt ordinances or resolutions prohibiting disorderly conduct within their respective limits.
As you can see, there are multiple ways to violate the disorderly conduct law, and they are each subject to the reader’s interpretation. At the same time, as the Foster case demonstrates, even a “disorderly conduct” charge can result in jail time, probation and other time consuming and expensive punishments. If you have been charged with disorderly conduct, please call me at 404-642-6333 and I will help you better understand your options and defenses.