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Are you facing a Rhode Island disorderly conduct charge?  Disorderly conduct is one of the most common charged criminal offenses in Rhode Island. This is a catch-all charge for disruptive behavior. In most cases, the facts of the alleged disruption are grossly overstated by the police or complaining witness. There are a number of different actions that may warrant Rhode Island disorderly conduct charges:

• Engaging in fighting or threatening, or in violent or tumultuous behavior;
• In a public place or near a private residence that he or she has no right to occupy, disturbs another person by making loud and unreasonable noise which under the circumstances would disturb a person of average sensibilities;
• Directs at another person in a public place offensive words which are likely to provoke a violent reaction on the part of the average person so addressed;

Rhode Island Disorderly Conduct Lawyers
Attorneys Marin, Barrett, and Parrillo
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Whether the disruption was due to loud party, loud music, other disruptive noise, loud sounds, including engaging in an argument with someone in public, the charge is the same. However, the facts of your case and your prior criminal history (or lack thereof) do affect your sentence if you are found guilty.

What is disorderly conduct in Rhode Island?

Disorderly conduct, codified in Rhode Island General Law 11-45-1, is a very common charge, but one of the most unique.  Unlike most other laws which criminalize very specific behavior, the disorderly conduct statute has seven different subsections all which prohibit different types of conduct.  These subsections include interfering with a public meeting, peeping through windows, obstructing sidewalks, making unreasonable noise, and provoking violence with offensive speech.  But by far the most commonly charged act of disorderly conduct is in 11-45-1(1) which prohibits engaging in “fighting or threatening, or violent or tumultuous behavior.”  Each subsection is very different, but the statute and penalties are all the same. 

What are common forms of disorderly conduct?

While there are several types of disorderly conduct, there are two that are most common. The first is Rhode Island General Law 11-45-1(1), engaging in fighting or threatening, or in violent or tumultuous behavior.  Examples of this include instances where an individual's physical behavior is violent but doesn't rise to the level of an actual assault, such as poising for a fight or breaking objects violently.  This section also includes verbal threats of violence, even if not accompanied by any physical behavior.  The second common form of disorderly conduct is 11-45-1(2) prohibits making “loud and unreasonable noise” in a public place.  This is different than threatening noises; this section simply outlaws noise that is loud and unreasonable enough that “under the circumstances would disturb a person of average sensibilities,” such as a noise complaint.  These charges can be murky and often time include constitutionally protected conduct, so it is extremely important to have an attorney who understands the nuances of the law on your side fighting your case.

Is indecent exposure considered disorderly conduct in Rhode Island?

Yes, although unlike the seven other forms of disorderly conduct, indecent exposure has its own statute.  Rhode Island General Law 11-45-2 makes it illegal to intentionally and for the purposes of sexual arousing expose his or her genitals to the view of another under circumstances in which his or her conduct is likely to cause affront, distress, or alarm to that person.  Because indecent exposure is so different than the other forms of disorderly conduct, it is also punished differently.  An individual convicted of indecent exposure disorderly conduct faces up to one year in prison, up to a $1,000 fine, or both.  In addition, he or she may be required to undergo court-mandated counseling.  Repeat convictions can result in a felony conviction and up to three years in prison.  If you or a loved one has been charged with indecent exposure in Rhode Island do not leave your freedom or your future to chance, call us today and let us get to work winning your case.

Are there defenses to disorderly conduct charges?

Absolutely.  As with most criminal offenses, the specifics of each case will determine what proper defense or defenses to use.  But disorderly conduct is also unique in that frequently there is a fine line between what is illegal and what is protected Free Speech under the 1st Amendment.  There are also issues with the State having sufficient evidence in disorderly conduct cases; oftentimes the police will not believe they can charge a defendant with the crime they may want to (an assault, for instance), so they will simply charge disorderly conduct and let the lawyers sort it out.  At Marin and Barrett, Inc. firmly believe that your rights are important and are worth fighting for.  Call us today and let us find the perfect defense for your disorderly conduct charge.

Is disorderly conduct protected by the Constitution?

In some instances, yes.  Much of the Rhode Island disorderly conduct statute criminalizes speech or expression, and any time the government seeks to prevent free speech there is the possibility that it has done so illegally.  The 1st Amendment right to free speech is not without its exceptions, and those exceptions are what crosses the line from legal free speech to illegal disorderly conduct.  For instance, while is not legal to threaten someone else with physical violence, there may be issues with the context or legitimacy of the threat that make it permissible.  Areas of criminal law grounded in the Constitution are constantly evolving and changing, make sure you have an attorney skilled in the law who is best equipped to fight your case.

What are the penalties for disorderly conduct in Rhode Island?

The penalties for a disorderly conduct conviction are spelled out in Rhode Island General Law 11-45-1(c) and include up to six months in prison, up to a $500 fine, or both.  In addition, if the parties involved are in a domestic relationship as defined in Rhode Island General Law 12-29-5, then the applicable domestic violence sanctions may also be imposed.  If you or a loved one has been charged with disorderly conduct, do not leave your liberty to chance – call us today and let us fight for you.

Is disorderly a domestic violence offense?

Potentially yes.  If the parties are in a domestic relationship as defined in Rhode Island General Laws 12-29, then the offense becomes a “domestic disorderly conduct.”  In addition to the penalties for disorderly conduct outlined in 11-45-1, those convicted on domestic disorderly conduct are also subject to the domestic violence penalties, including having to complete domestic violence counseling and the imposition of a No Contact Order against the victim or victims of the disorderly conduct. 

Can someone be charged with disorderly conduct on their own property?

Under certain circumstances, yes, you can.  While it is certainly true that people enjoy heighted protections and privacy on their own property, it is not a license to act disorderly.  For instance, it is common that couples arguing with one another may rise to the level of violent or tumultuous behavior notwithstanding that it took place on their own property.  Similarly, simply being on your own property does not give an individual the right to threaten somebody else.  That said, where an alleged disorderly conduct takes place can often assist a skilled lawyer in defending a disorderly conduct charge.  If you are facing a disorderly conduct charge, contact us today and put our skilled lawyers to work fighting your case.

I was charged with assault, why am I also charged with disorderly conduct?

This is very common.  Because assault by its very nature is violent, it is not uncommon for the police to charge an individual with disorderly conduct in addition to the assault.  Frequently the police may charge disorderly conduct in addition to the assault if there are issues with proof.  Oftentimes it is easier to prove a disorderly conduct than an assault, and the police will charge both to strengthen the chances of securing a conviction. 

I don't feel I did anything wrong, so why am I being charged with disorderly conduct?

Disorderly conduct is oftentimes regarded as a being a “catch-all” type charge, meaning that the police may arrest an individual and charge him or her with disorderly conduct simply because the conduct seems illegal, but there are no other charges that fit.  As we've discussed in this section, a lot of disorderly conduct straddles the line between constitutionally protected behavior and illegal behavior, and oftentimes it is simply a matter of people have different perspectives on the same situation. 

Can disorderly conduct charges be dismissed? 

Absolutely.  It is not uncommon for cases, particularly weak ones or those with issues of proof to wind up being dismissed.  Sometimes this is because the State simply agrees that they cannot make their case, although more often it is because a dismissal of the charges is negotiated by a defense attorney on behalf of their client.  This may be true even though the State prosecutor believes in the strength of his or her case.  If you have been charged with disorderly conduct, call us and put us to work defending your case today.  And remember, just because you may have done something illegal does not mean that you're guilty. 

Should I hire a Rhode Island Criminal Defense Lawyer for disorderly conduct charges?

Since you have been reading these FAQs you now know that the penalties for disorderly conduct can be significant.  With the possibility of prison time, a monetary fine, domestic violence counseling, and a tarnished criminal record all on the table you should not face a disorderly conduct or domestic disorderly conduct charge alone.  If you or a loved one has been charged with disorderly conduct, call us today and put one of our experienced attorneys to work fighting your case.


A Rhode Island disorderly conduct charge is a misdemeanor criminal offense. The charge carries a maximum sentence of six months imprisonment and/or up to a $500 fine. Most disorderly conduct cases will not warrant the maximum penalty. However, any disorderly conduct conviction may include counseling (substance abuse, mental health, anger management), fines, jail, community service a criminal record, court costs, and other penalties.

In addition to the penalties listed above, a Rhode Island disorderly conduct conviction carries with it the stigma of a criminal conviction. A criminal conviction is something that may follow you forever. You never want to put yourself in a position to have to explain why you have a disorderly conduct conviction to a future employer. And in many cases, you may never get to explain it. Because a background check will be performed on you, and you simply won't be offered the job.

Call for a consultation on your case today; we are here to help. We can offer defense suggestions, and let you know what we can do to beat the case, and keep your record clean. To discuss your Rhode Island Disorderly Conduct charges with an aggressive disorderly conduct defense lawyer, call 401-228-8271 or email at [email protected].

Call now to speak directly with skilled
Rhode Island Disorderly Conduct Lawyers – (401) 228-8271


What is the disorderly conduct statute in R.I.?

 The Rhode Island disorderly conduct statute is contained in the General Laws 11-45-1, sections (a) through (d). 


§ 11-45-1 Disorderly conduct. –

(a) A person commits disorderly conduct if he or she intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly:

(1) Engages in fighting or threatening, or in violent or tumultuous behavior;

(2) In a public place or near a private residence that he or she has no right to occupy, disturbs another person by making loud and unreasonable noise which under the circumstances would disturb a person of average sensibilities;

(3) Directs at another person in a public place offensive words which are likely to provoke a violent reaction on the part of the average person so addressed;

(4) Alone or with others, obstructs a highway, street, sidewalk, railway, waterway, building entrance, elevator, aisle, stairway, or hallway to which the public or a substantial group of the public has access or any other place ordinarily used for the passage of persons, vehicles, or conveyances;

(5) Engages in conduct which obstructs or interferes physically with a lawful meeting, procession, or gathering;

(6) Enters upon the property of another and for a lascivious purpose looks into an occupied dwelling or other building on the property through a window or other opening; or

(7) Who without the knowledge or consent of the individual, looks for a lascivious purpose through a window, or any other opening into an area in which another would have a reasonable expectation of privacy, including, but not limited to, a restroom, locker room, shower, changing room, dressing room, bedroom, or any other such private area, not withstanding any property rights the individual may have in the location in which the private area is located.

(8) [Deleted by P.L. 2008, ch. 183, § 1].

(b) Any person, including a police officer, may be a complainant for the purposes of instituting action for any violation of this section.

(c) Any person found guilty of the crime of disorderly conduct shall be imprisoned for a term of not more than six (6) months, or fined not more than five hundred dollars ($500), or both.

(d) In no event shall subdivisions (a)(2) – (5) of this section be construed to prevent lawful picketing or lawful demonstrations including, but not limited to, those relating to a labor dispute.

Call now to speak directly with a skilled
RI Disorderly Conduct Attorney – (401) 228-8271


Yes, you can. We see a lot of these charges, and there are almost always good defense strategies that can get charges reduced, dismissed, or work out a reasonable arrangement.

Because these offenses are common, they go through the Rhode Island court system quickly. When you are charged with one of these offenses, however, it may seem like time stands still. Most people have never been arrested and charged with a crime before, and that puts added pressure and uncertainty on your shoulders.

And when you are facing jail time and a mark on your permanent record, no crime seems minor. But we can help you. As your attorney I can ensure that you will be treated fairly in the courtroom and make certain you are as comfortable as possible during this stressful time.

It is important to hire a skilled defense lawyer as soon as possible to begin the process of gathering evidence and crafting a legal defense to the charges you are facing. Contact RI Disorderly Conduct Lawyer Matthew T. Marin today to schedule a free, confidential consultation to discuss your case, your rights, and your options. The Law Offices of Matthew T. Marin, Esq., Inc. can be reached by calling (401) 228-8271 or by email at [email protected].


Rhode Island Disorderly Conduct Attorneys at Marin and Barrett, Inc. defends individuals facing prosecution for Disorderly Conduct Charges throughout Rhode Island including Block Island, Bristol, Burrillville, Central Falls, Charlestown, Coventry, Cranston, Cumberland, East Greenwich, East Providence, Exeter, Foster, Glocester, Hopkinton, Jamestown, Johnston, Lincoln, Little Compton, Middletown, Narragansett, Newport, New Shoreham, North Kingstown, North Providence, North Smithfield, Pawtucket, Portsmouth, Providence, Richmond, Scituate, Smithfield, South Kingstown, Tiverton, Warren, Warwick, Westerly, West Greenwich, West Warwick, Woonsocket. 

Attorney Marin Named A SuperLawyer for Eight Consecutive Years 2014-2021

Attorney Matthew Marin has been named a Rhode Island SuperLawyer for 9 consecutive years from 2014 thru 2022. Each year, no more than 2.5 percent of the lawyers in Rhode Island are selected by the Research Team at Super Lawyers to receive this honor. Super Lawyers selects lawyers who have attained a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement in their practice area.

Rhode Island Members of the National College for DUI Defense

Attorneys Marin and Barrett are both Rhode Island General Members of the National College for DUI Defense. Members represent some of the most experienced and cutting edge DUI defense attorney's throughout the Country. Nationwide, DUI laws are extremely complex and constantly changing and the College facilitates the exchange of innovative defenses throughout the Country.