North Carolina Disorderly Conduct Laws
What Is Disorderly Conduct in North Carolina?
"Disorderly conduct" refers to actions that disturb other people. Under North Carolina law, there are several behaviors that could be constituted as "disorderly conduct."
- Refusing to leave an establishment after being ordered to do so;
- Disrupting any religious or burial service;
- Blocking access to a business or disrupting a business;
- Fighting or engaging in conduct that creates the threat of violence;
- Taking possession of or seizing any public or private school building or facility without permission without permission;
- Using any language or gestures that are likely to incite fighting or violence;
- Disrupting a class or the operation of a school.
Failure to Disperse
North Carolina has a related law known as "failure to disperse." If any law enforcement officer believes a riot is occurring and orders you to leave or disperse from a situation and you fail to comply, you could be charged with this offense.
You could also be charged if you congregate in an area and create a risk of injury to another or to property.
What Is Considered a Congregation of People?
The law varies, but typically that means assemblage of three (3) or more persons. Most notably, a group of people in North Carolina citizens were arrested and charged with failure to disperse in connection with a grassroots movement known as "Moral Mondays." Protesters were arrested inside the North Carolina legislature, following proposed voting restrictions that would require state-issued photo identification to cast a ballot.
Disorderly Conduct: NC General Statutes § 14-288.4
Failure to Disperse: NC General Statutes § 14-288.5
|What is Prohibited||
Disorderly Conduct (see above explanation)
Failure to Disperse (see above explanation)
Misdemeanor, Punishable by 30 days to 6 months in jail, possible fines, probation, and community service.
Subsequent violations can lead to felony charges.
Because North Carolina's criminal laws can sometimes get complicated, particularly surrounding the right to free speech under the First Amendment, it may also be a good idea to consult an experienced criminal defense attorney if you have questions about your specific situation.