Understanding Disorderly Conduct Laws in Minnesota


Under Minnesota law, several types of behavior fall under the classification of disorderly conduct. These include the following:

  • Communicating with another person using language that is abusive, obscene, or offensive
  • Engaging in abusive, boisterous, obscene, offensive, or noisy conduct
  • Unlawfully disturbing an assembly or meeting, whether or not you were a legitimate participant
  • Getting into a brawl or fight

It is important to note the distinction between disorderly conduct and assault in Minnesota. Assault laws range from first to fifth degree and involve aggressive and unwanted physical contact or intimidation of another person. A disorderly conduct charge is more likely in the case of a brawl or fight because both parties engaged in the violent behavior. Another distinction to be aware of is that a person can’t be charged with disorderly conduct if the behavior occurred due to an epileptic seizure.

In order to be charged with this misdemeanor offense, your behavior must have reasonably caused another person or group of people to feel alarmed, angry, or resentful. The law also requires that you knew or should have known that other people would have this type of response. Third, you must have behaved in a disorderly manner in a public or a private space.

Context is also important when considering whether an action qualifies as disorderly conduct. For example, barging in on a prayer meeting and shouting offensive words could result in a charge. If you shout those same words to someone in a noisy bar, he or she may not even notice.

Possible Legal Consequences for a Disorderly Conduct Charge

This is a misdemeanor offense that may carry a sentence of up to six months in jail and payment of a $1,000 fine. Other possible consequences include having to pay restitution to the victim, mandatory counseling and/or anger management classes, and community service. In many cases, prosecutors add this charge on to more serious ones such as assault, battery, robbery, or criminal sexual conduct.

The legal penalty is greater if your charge of disorderly conduct involved a vulnerable adult or you were in a caregiver position. If convicted, you could face up to one year in jail and a fine of $3,000. Minnesota statute 626.5572, subdivision 21, defines a vulnerable adult as a person over age 18 who is an inpatient or resident of a facility that is licensed to provide services to adults under Minnesota statute 245A.01 to 245A.15. He or she can also receive services from a home care provider. This person must lack the ability to provide self-care and make adult decisions due to a physical or mental condition.

Whether you are charged with a first-time simple disorderly conduct charge, a disorderly conduct charge against a vulnerable adult, or several different crimes, it affects you long after you have paid your debt to society. Employers and rental property owners routinely order criminal background checks as part of the screening process. Unfortunately, even a misdemeanor charge could prevent you from securing employment or housing.

Your Conduct May Be Legally Protected

It is important to understand that you are not guilty of disorderly conduct just because the police arrested you for it. You may have been at a political rally and perfectly within your legal rights to voice your opinion, even if was loud and made other people uncomfortable. Because the charge is so broad and so common, several possible defenses exist to beat it. We encourage you to contact us at Speas Law Firm as soon as possible to request a free review of your case. Our experienced attorneys are available to defend your reputation and livelihood from this common misdemeanor charge.

Disclaimer: The content of this article does not constitute an attorney-client relationship. Please contact Jennifer Speas to discuss the specifics of your case.