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Penal Code 415: Disturbing the Peace

Have you ever heard someone claim that you were disturbing their peace?

Did you know that disturbing the peace can actually lead to an infraction or misdemeanor?

Penal Code section 415 makes the following acts a crime:

  • Any person who unlawfully fights in a public place or challenges another person in a public place to fight.
  • Any person who maliciously and willfully disturbs another person by loud and
    unreasonable noise.
  • Any person who uses offensive words in a public place which are intended to provoke an immediate violent reaction.

For example, let’s say Jane and Sara get into a shouting match in the park because Sarah refused to share the park bench. They start challenging each other to a fight and their loud outbursts catch the attention of some of the parents at the playground. It frightened the children in the area and the authorities were called. Both Jane and Sara were cited with a violation of Penal Code section 415 for disturbing the peace.

A 415 can be charged as a misdemeanor and punishment for the 415 violation includes imprisonment for up to 90 days in the county jail, a fine up to four hundred dollars ($400) or both. With the assistance of a skilled criminal defense attorney, oftentimes these violations can be resolved as infractions. It is possible to successfully reduce a misdemeanor 415 to an infraction and in many cases of battery, vandalism, and other low level misdemeanors, a 415 is a commonly negotiated disposition. It tends to be an immigration safe resolution and it has much lower exposure (at 90 days) than most other misdemeanors which carry a maximum county jail exposure of 6 months or one year.

If you have received a citation for disturbing the peace or have been charged with a more serious reasonably related charged it is important to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney. Your attorney will analyze the case to determine if there are any applicable legal defenses – if you did not intend to disturb the peace, you were falsely accused, or the act you engaged in was constitutionally protected (like protesting) there may be a way to defeat the charges you’re facing.

The attorneys at the Nieves Law Firm have experience with Penal Code 415 offenses in Oakland and throughout the Bay Area and are always ready to fight for our clients. Call us now for a free consultation.

Author Bio

Jo-Anna Nieves is the Founder and Managing Attorney of The Nieves Law Firm, an Oakland criminal defense law firm she created in 2012. With more than 11 years of experience in criminal defense, she has zealously represented clients in a wide range of legal matters, including DUIs, domestic violence, expungement, federal crimes, juvenile law, motions to vacate, sex crimes, violent crimes, and other criminal charges.

Jo-Anna received her Juris Doctor from the Florida State University College of Law and is a member of the State Bar of California. She has received numerous accolades for her work, including being named a Super Lawyer Rising Star the past 8 years, the #12 Fastest Growing Law Firm in the U.S. by Law Firm 500 in 2019, and one of the fastest growing companies in the U.S. by Inc 5000 in 2023.

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