Texas Disorderly Conduct Laws

Overview of Texas Disorderly Laws

Various types of unruly or obnoxious conduct may violate Texas state law. Police may use a disorderly conduct charge when a person is disturbing the peace or behaving in a disruptive manner, but is not presenting any serious danger to the public. Disorderly conduct may be viewed as a "catch-all" crime. See FindLaw's Public Safety Violations to learn about related offenses.

Examples:

  • Using abusive, profane or vulgar language in a public place
  • Making an offensive gesture in a public place that could incite unruly conduct
  • Chemically creating an unreasonable odor in a public place
  • Abusing or threatening a person in a public place
  • Making unreasonable amounts of noise in a public place or near a private residence that is not your own
  • Fighting in public
  • Displaying or discharging a firearm in public
  • Exposing one's self in public
  • Looking or "peeping" into a private area that is not your own such as hotel rooms, homes, restrooms, or shower stalls

Texas Disorderly Conduct Laws: The Basics

Specific details about Texas disorderly conduct laws, including relevant statutes, possible defenses, and more are listed in the following table. Remember if you are charged with a crime in Texas, you should always consider speaking with an attorney before entering a plea or admitting guilt.

Statutes

Elements of Disorderly Conduct

In Texas, to prove disorderly conduct, a prosecutor must prove that the conduct was performed both intentionally and knowingly. If the conduct was being performed either unintentionally or if the person did not know their conduct was disturbing the peace, it will likely be insufficient to prove disorderly conduct.

Sometimes, prosecutors may offer a plea deal in which a charge of a more serious crime may be reduced down to that of disorderly conduct in exchange for the defendant's agreement to plead guilty, or perhaps to help the prosecutor with information for a higher priority investigation.

Possible Defenses

  • Provocation for abusive or threatening conduct
  • Reasonable fear of bodily harm by a dangerous wild animal for discharging a firearm
  • Being a student in the sixth grade or lower grade level and the conduct occurred at a public school campus during school hours.
  • Lack of knowledge
  • You did not commit the act
  • You did not use fighting words, even if your language included profanity or vulgarity

Penalties

  • Class C misdemeanor in most cases, punishable by a fine of no more than $500
  • Class B misdemeanor if the conduct deals with discharging or displaying a firearm in a public place with the intention of alarming others, funeral picketing, obstructing a highway, disrupting a meeting, and making silent or abusive 911 calls, punishable by up to 180 days in jail, a fine of up to $2,000, or both.
  • Texas has broad sentencing guidelines. The penalty imposed is up to the discretion of the judge, and sometimes will come from a recommendation by the prosecutor.

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Texas Disorderly Laws: Related Resources

Free Texas Criminal Defense Attorney Match

What’s worse than being arrested for disorderly conduct in Texas? Not having a strong criminal defense attorney on your side to help you navigate through the Texas criminal justice system. You don’t need to figure out your defense by yourself. Let FindLaw match you with a criminal defense attorney for free and learn more about how to handle your case. Get a free case review today.

Next Steps: Search for a Local Attorney

Contact a qualified attorney.