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Disorderly conduct is a crime in most jurisdictions in the United States, China, and Taiwan. Typically, "disorderly conduct" makes it a crime to be drunk in public, to "disturb the peace", or to loiter in certain areas. Many types of unruly conduct may fit the definition of disorderly conduct, as such statutes are often used as "catch-all" crimes. Police may use a disorderly conduct charge to keep the peace when people are behaving in a disruptive manner to themselves or others, but otherwise present no danger.[clarification needed]
Disorderly conduct is typically classified as an infraction or misdemeanor in the United States. However, in certain circumstances (e.g., when committed in an airport, a park, a government office building, or near a funeral) it may be a felony in some US states.
A circular definition of disorderly conduct defines the offense in these ways:
Indiana's definition of "disorderly conduct" is modeled after the Model Penal Code's definition, and is typical, but not identical, to similar laws on the statute books of other U.S. states. It covers a large variety of potential acts in its prohibition. "Fighting" is perhaps the clearest act within the scope of its prohibition, and "tumultuous conduct" is "conduct [...] likely to result in serious bodily injury to a person or substantial damage to property." But exactly what constitutes "tumultuous conduct", "unreasonable noise", or "disrupt[ing] a lawful assembly" are matters that are far harder to decide, and as such disorderly conduct statutes give police officers and other authorities fairly broad discretion to arrest people whose activities they find undesirable for a wide variety of reasons. Potential punishments include a jail term, fine, probation, restraining orders, or community service.
U.S. courts confronted with cases stemming from disorderly conduct arrests have from time to time had occasion to restrict the broad and vague definitions of the statute to make certain that freedom of speech and assembly and other forms of protected expression under the First Amendment were not affected.[example needed]Common law jurisdictions have accumulated precedents that refine interpretation of vague statutes. Courts have had occasion to curb its scope to make certain that people were (or could have been) aware that their conduct was, in fact, within the prohibition of the statute, as required by the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.[example needed] However, no court has struck down a disorderly conduct statute as being per se unconstitutionally vague or overbroad. Courts have been willing to strike down vagrancy ordinances which are nearly as vague and do not give adequate warning.
California Penal Code § 415 which is similar to the Model Penal Code reiteration above actually concerns disturbing the peace. However, in California disorderly conduct (California Penal Code § 647) lists what acts constitute disorderly conduct.
Articles 277 to 304 of the Criminal Law of the People's Republic of China, revised and promulgated on 14 March 1997 and effective as of 1 October 1997, criminalize many kinds of disorderly conducts in the jurisdiction of the People's Republic of China.
Articles 23 to 29 of the Law of the People's Republic of China on Penalties for Administration of Public Security, adopted and promulgated on 28 August 2005 and effective as of 1 March 2006, administratively penalize non-criminal disorderly conducts in Mainland China.
Effective on 1 July 1935, Articles 149 to 160 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of China criminalize many kinds of disorderly conducts in the jurisdiction of the Republic of China, which has shifted to Taiwan since 1949.
Promulgated on 29 June 1991, Articles 63 to 79 of the Social Order Maintenance Act administratively penalize non-criminal disorderly conducts in Taiwan.