Disorder Conduct is a frequently prosecuted crime, but the language of the statute is sufficiently broad that the courts have taken great pains to prevent misapplication. In People v. Weaver (Ct. App. 2/10/2011) (Graffeo, J.), a unanimous Court of Appeals clarified the requirements under the DisCon statute.
The case involves a bizarre set of facts apropros for a blog post on the day after Valentine's Day. An officer came upon a man and woman "dressed in wedding attire" verbally fighting in the parking lot of a hotel. They had apparently been married earlier that day. The defendant hurled obscenities at his wife and the officer in a "very loud," "very aggressive," and "very threatening" matter.
The court summarized the law: "[A] person may be guilty of disorderly conduct only when the situation extends beyond the exchange between the individual disputants to a point where it becomes 'a potential or immediate public problem.'" Here, the defendant argued that this was a simple, individual dispute between he and his wife. However, "weigh[ing] the whole incident," the jury had ample evidence to conclude that the defendant violated the statute. This incident occurred during the early morning hours, in a parking lot of a hotel that was open for business, and there were a number of people in the vicinity. (LC)