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What counts as disorderly conduct in Wisconsin?

Wisconsin has laws to protect the peace and safety of the public, which means disturbing the peace and disorderly conduct are unlawful. If you offend, upset, annoy or anger people with unreasonable behavior, you may find yourself facing criminal charges.

But what exactly counts as a disorderly conduct offense in Wisconsin? Can you really get arrested for simply yelling or swearing? Here is what you should know about the crime of disorderly conduct:

Disorderly conduct

According to Wisconsin statutes, disorderly conduct means engaging in indecent, abusive, violent or noisy behavior that may provoke or disturb others. Some examples include:

  • Screaming obscenities while arguing with a friend.
  • Yelling at a police officer.
  • Getting into a drunken fight with someone at a bar.

Acting in a profane or boisterous manner may lead to an arrest or conviction, even if you do not directly disturb a particular person. The law says the conduct is illegal if it is something that "tends to," or has the possibility to, disrupt a situation. 

Unlawful assembly

While you have a constitutional right to peacefully assemble, you may be committing a crime if your gathering becomes disruptive. For instance, you may be part of a protest during which you carry signs and chant phrases. If the signs are obscene or you yell obscenities, this may constitute a disruptive assembly. If your assembly causes someone to expect an injury or property damage to occur, a cop may arrest you.

Public intoxication

Wisconsin is unique in that it does not criminalize being drunk in public. This means you should not face criminal charges for drinking alcohol or being drunk in public, as long as you are of-age. However, the police may place you in protective custody for this act. Also, if your drunkenness causes you to become offensive or disruptive, you could be charged with disorderly conduct.

Talk to a lawyer if you have more questions about disorderly conduct charges in Wisconsin.

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