Disturbing the Peace
Penal Code 415
The law on the crime of disturbing the peace is found at California penal code section 415 PC. According to penal code 415, there are three different ways a person may "disturb the peace":
Fighting or challenging someone to a fight in a public place [PC 415(1)]
Willfully and maliciously disturbing another person by loud and unreasonable noise [PC 415(2)]
Using offensive words that are likely to provoke another person to violence [PC 415(3)]
Despite the fact that there are several specific crimes that fall under the heading of PC 415, the district attorney will sometimes file any one of the above disturbing the peace charges under the general heading of PC 415(a), without the specific subsection that would otherwise apply.
This article deals with the two most common crimes charged under PC 415: PC 415(1) disturbing the peace by challenging a fight in public, and PC 415(2) disturbing the peace with loud noise.
PC 415(1): To prove that the defendant is guilty of the crime disturbing the peace by fighting or challenging someone to a fight under PC 415(a), the district attorney must prove:
The defendant willfully challenged someone to a fight, and
The defendant and the other person were in a public place or public building when the challenge or fight was made, and
The defendant did not act in self-defense.
Note: When the law states that the defendant acts "willfully" it simply means that the defendant acted on purpose or with intent.
PC 415(2): To prove that the defendant is guilty of the crime of disturbing the peace by Loud and Unreasonable Noise under PC 415(2), the district attorney must prove:
The defendant maliciously and willfully disturbed another person by causing loud and unreasonable noise, and
The defendant was not engaged in a lawfully related activity.
Note: According to PC 415(2), the defendant has to have acted purposefully. In other words, there is no accidental disturbing the peace.
In addition, to disturb someone means to cause loud and unreasonable noise that creates a clear and present danger of immediate violence or the noise must be used for the purpose of disrupting lawful activities. However, the district attorney does not need to prove that the defendant intended to provoke violence when he or she disturbed the peace with loud noise. It is sufficient if the noise creates a clear and present danger of violence even if the defendant did not intend to do so.
PC 415(2) Sentence & Penalties
Note: All of the penalties associated with disturbing the peace crimes, including PC 415(a), 415(2), and 415(3), are identical, including the fine amount, if any.
PC 415(a): Disturbing the peace by loud and unreasonable noise under PC 415(2) is a misdemeanor or an infraction. If found guilty of misdemeanor PC 415(2), the defendant may face up to 90 days in jail; however, probation without jail is a common sentence in disturbing the peace cases. Infractions carry no jail time but the there are fines associated with infraction cases.
Probation Sentence: A probation sentence is a period supervision instead of jail. Probation sentences are allowed in PC 415 cases, but they are not guaranteed.
A probation sentence for misdemeanor disturbing the peace cases is called summary probation, informal probation, or court probation (synonymous terms). Sometimes an actual jail sentence will be ordered as a term of probation, but in San Bernardino County, unless a court says otherwise, that jail sentence may be served alternatively on work release or house arrest.
Note: In some cases of disturbing the peace it may be possible to reduce the charge from a misdemeanor to an infraction, or have the charge dismissed. Whether or not a reduction or dismissal of the charge is applicable depends largely on the facts of the case and the defendant's criminal history, if any.
Bail: The scheduled bail amount for disturbing the peace charges in San Bernadino County is $5,000. However, in many PC 415 cases, a defendant will be allowed an own recognizance release (OR) (as opposed to being required to post the bail).
In addition to possible jail time, if found guilty of any PC 415 crime, the defendant may face fines, probation terms, criminal protective orders, professional license restrictions, immigration consequences, military service consequences, and more.
Note: Disturbing the peace is not considered a crime involving moral turpitude.
Defense to PC 415
The most common defense to PC 415 crimes (both PC 415(1) and PC 415(2), include, but are not limited to the following: Insufficient evidence, mistake of fact, intoxication, insanity, consent in a public forum, statute of limitations (one year from the date of the alleged disturbing of the peace), and more.
Remember, to "disturb the peace" means to do something willfully, or on purpose; therefore, the defendant may successfully defend a PC 415 charge if he did not know that another person was being disturb by his conduct. This defense does not apply to PC 415(1) disturb the peace by fighting, or PC 415(3) g, or disturb the peace with offensive words likely to provoke an immediate violent reaction.
For example, if defendant plays his music loud, but he is reasonably unaware that his music is disturbing another person, then the defendant is not guilty of PC 415(2) disturb another person by loud and unreasonable noise.
In the above example, if the police are called and determine that the defendant's music is unreasonably loud to another person (i.e., neighbor), and the police ask the defendant to cease the unreasonably loud noise (turn down the music), then the defendant may be charged with PC415(2) if he does not comply with the police officer's direction to turn the music down.
Note: In some cases, a police officer is called on an alleged disturbing the peace with loud music call. but the arriving police officer determines that the alleged offender's "loud music" is not unreasonably loud under the circumstances, and thereafter, the alleged PC 415(2) suspect is allowed to continue his "loud" music.
If you are charged with disturbing the peace under PC 415(1), 415(2) 415(3), or the general heading of 415(a),, contact our criminal defense attorneys today for a free consultation. We have successfully handled hundreds of disturbing the peace type criminal charges. We represent all PC 415 charges in the cities of Redlands, Fontana, Chino, Rancho Cucamonga, Yucaipa, San Bernardino, Highland, Riverside, Victorville, Rialto, and Ontario. Call today!
Quick Legal Reference
Crime: Disturbing the Peace
Code: PC 415 (CalCrim No. 2688 & 2689)
Wobbler: No. PC 415 is not a wobbler. This means that PC 415 is always charged as a misdemeanor.
Incarceration: PC 415 jail sentence up to 90 days.
Probation: Probation is allowed in PC 415 cases (assuming other crimes or enhancements that bar a probation sentence are not present). Whether or not a probation sentence is offered by the District Attorney, or granted by the court, depends on several factors, including the defendant's criminal history and the facts of the case.
Work Release or House Arrest: In some cases, a probation sentence can include actual in-custody county jail, house arrest (electronic monitoring), or work release (or some combination of these penalties); however, most in-custody jail sentence orders that are required as a terms of probation are much shorter than the maximum jail sentence.
Strike: PC 415 is not a strike offense listed in California's Three Strikes law.
Credits: 50% good conduct credits available.
CIMT: PC 415 is not a crime involving moral turpitude.
Bail: $5,000 (San Bernardino County)
Criminal Defense Lawyers
Criminal Defense Attorneys
CA Disturbing the Peace Laws
PC415: Any of the following persons shall be punished by imprisonment in the county jail for a period of not more than 90 days, a fine of not more than four hundred dollars ($400), or both such imprisonment and fine:
(PC415(1)): Any person who unlawfully fights in a public place or challenges another person in a public place to fight.
(PC415(2)): Any person who maliciously and willfully disturbs another person by loud and unreasonable noise.
(PC415(3)): Any person who uses offensive words in a public place which are inherently likely to provoke an immediate violent reaction.