If you've been charged with drunk or disorderly conduct, then it's likely that police found you acting unruly or obnoxiously, drunk or loitering in a public space. The reason why this crime is often referred to as "disturbing the peace" is because, while your behavior isn't considered to pose any serious danger to others, it's believed to be either uncomfortable or an annoyance to the public at large.
The types of behaviors that are considered to fit the profile of disorderly conduct vary by jurisdiction. In some places, simply violating an open container law may be a violation of this type of law. In others, an individual may have to be intoxicated and accosting others to warrant being charged with this crime.
Penalties associated with violating such drunk and disorderly conduct statutes may also be different depending on the laws of the jurisdiction in which the behavior is alleged to take place.
For relatively minor violations of these laws, a police officer may only hand out a citation. These types of tickets rarely require an individual to appear in court unless he or she wants to contest the charge altogether. They can generally be taken care of by paying just a small fine.
In the case of more bothersome or erratic behavior, though, you may be hauled off to jail. In instances in which an arrest occurs, it's likely that you'll have post a bail before you can be released.
While a charge such as this is not likely to result in a felony conviction, it can depend on the circumstances surrounding your offense, your prior criminal history and the laws in the jurisdiction where the crime occurred. Even if you enter a plea on reduced charges, it may adversely impact your ability to either retain or secure employment in the future.
In learning more about your case, a Christianburg, Virginia, criminal defense attorney can advise you of potential defense strategies available to you.
Source: FindLaw, "Disorderly conduct," accessed Dec. 28, 2017