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Disorderly Conduct

Colorado delineates a subset of actions that it believes may create an unsafe or unpleasant environment. These actions are defined as disorderly conduct, and include fighting, being obnoxiously and egregiously loud and conducting threats, verbal or otherwise.

In the following article, we’ll go over how disorderly conduct is defined in state law, some examples, and the penalties associated with disorderly conduct.

Denver Attorney for Disorderly Conduct

Sometimes a night out can go wrong, and a protest can turn sour. In those moments, you need someone to protect you. The Law Office of Matthew Martin is ready to provide legal representation to those accused of disorderly conduct in the state of Colorado. These charges can result in heavy fines or possible jail, and have implications on your social life, employment and future opportunities.

Don’t wait, for more information and to schedule your first free consultation, call Matthew Martin at (303) 725-0017 today.

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Disorderly Conduct Defined

Disorderly conduct typically refers to any behavior that disrupts the peace and order in public spaces. Colorado Revised Statutes (CRS) § 18-9-106 defines disorderly conduct as engaging in any of the following actions with intent to cause public inconvenience, annoyance, or alarm, or recklessly creating a risk thereof:

  1. Fighting or engaging in violent behavior in public. (Petty Offense or Class 2 Misdemeanor)
  2. Making an unreasonable amount of noise. (Petty Offense or Class 2 Misdemeanor)
  3. Using abusive or obscene language or gestures in public. (Petty Offense or Class 2 Misdemeanor)
  4. Displaying a deadly weapon in a public place in a manner calculated to alarm. (Class 2 Misdemeanor)
  5. Discharging a firearm in a public place. (Class 1 Misdemeanor)
  6. Intentionally causing panic through suggestive gestures or calculated phrases. (Class 2 Misdemeanor)

Some Examples Include:

  • Physical altercations: Engaging in fights or brawls in public places.
  • Excessive noise: Creating loud disturbances such as blasting music late at night.
  • Verbal altercations: Yelling obscenities or engaging in heated arguments in public.
  • Displaying weapons in a threatening manner: Brandishing a firearm or other deadly weapon in a way that causes fear or alarm among others.
  • Causing Alarm: Saying or doing something that would reasonably cause fear, like shouting “fire!” in a crowded theater, or that you or someone else has a bomb in an airport.

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Disorderly conduct is typically charged as a petty offense or a misdemeanor in Colorado, depending on the severity of the behavior and any prior criminal record. The following schedule provides the sentencing requirements for petty and misdemeanor offenses in Colorado.

Class of Misdemeanor Minimum Sentence Maximum Sentence
Class 1 (extraordinary risk of harm*) 6 months, $500 fine, or both 24 months, $5,000 fine, or both
Class 1 6 months, $500 fine, or both 18 months, $5,000 fine, or both
Class 2 3 months, $250 fine, or both 364 days, $1,000 fine, or both
Class 3 $50 fine 6 months, $750 fine, or both
Unclassified Specified in statute Specified in statute


Common defenses against disorderly conduct charges typically revolve around your constitutional right to expression or to assembly. Many disorderly conduct arrests are due to disagreements about whether another group has the right to assemble (such as a protest or strike) or as a result of fighting. The following are a few enumerated defenses that your lawyer may employ:

  1. First Amendment Rights: If the cited behavior involves spoken words, gestures, or a protest or strike, then it may be defensible under free speech laws. However, there are limits to free speech, including assembling on private property, whether the protest disrupted public infrastructure or governance, and whether the speech could reasonably draw a person to conflict (fighting words).
  2. Intent: In some cases, the speech or cited action may not have been intended to cause public harm. This could happen if nearby listeners take serious offense to something you said, causing violence. Disorderly conduct generally requires intentional behavior or criminal negligence or recklessness. You can also use this as a defense if you happen to be in the wrong place, at the wrong time, such as while a protest group is being arrested.
  3. Self-Defense: If you are attacked, you have a right to defend yourself. However, law enforcement may sometimes charge both parties with disorderly conduct in the case of a fight. This defense largely relies on establishing a timeline and proving that you did not instigate the offense.

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Additional Resources

ACLU Colorado – Understand your right to protest. This guide provides a strong overview of what you can and cannot do as a protestor in Colorado, as well as what to do if you have been arrested during a protest or demonstration.

Stand Your Ground – This article provides an overview of Colorado’s “Stand Your Ground” law. The author is a firearm instructor in the state of Colorado, and explains when it is appropriate to use a firearm in self-defense. This is important, as you may be charged with disorderly conduct and discharge of a firearm by law enforcement.

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Hire a Disorderly Conduct Defense Attorney in Denver, Colorado

For more information and to schedule your first free consultation, call Matthew Martin at (303) 725-0017 today.

Matthew Martin accepts clients throughout the greater Denver area including Jefferson County, Douglas County, Arapahoe County, Broomfield County, Adams County, and Boulder County.

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