How Long Does a Disorderly Conduct Charge Stay on File?

By Elizabeth (Lisa)Thompson
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States classify most crimes as misdemeanors or felonies. Disorderly conduct charges may fall into either category, depending on the jurisdiction and the circumstances surrounding the offense. Disorderly conduct usually includes a variety of unruly behaviors that cause any type of disturbance, such as public offenses or those on private property in places like bars.

Examples of Disorderly Conduct

Disorderly conduct covers a wide variety of offenses, depending on the state. Several of these include drunk and disorderly, loitering where prohibited, disturbing the peace, causing a riot, using extremely vulgar or abusive language, making excessive or unreasonable noise, fighting or blocking traffic. Disorderly conduct also includes some types of domestic violence disturbances in which no one was injured.

Criminal History Basics

Information regarding arrests and arrest dispositions stay on criminal history records indefinitely. This is true even for offenses that are dismissed eventually or that do not result in convictions. Arrests remain on a criminal record for years, including disorderly conduct charges.

Penalties

Misdemeanor offenders may receive jail time, fines or community service hours. If the disorderly conduct is charged as a felony, the implications are more serious than if the offense is charged as a misdemeanor. Disorderly conducts charged as felonies often result in probation. Probation supervision may include home arrest, random drug tests (even if the offense was not drug-related), accountability to a probation officer, community service hours and fines. Probationers who violate probation may receive prison terms.

Expungement

You may be able to legally remove and destroy arrest records, especially those that do not result in convictions, from your criminal record through a process called expungement. You must meet certain criteria, which vary according to jurisdiction. Some states allow continuing access to expunged records for careers such as law enforcement employment or the licensing of teachers or doctors. Some states consider an expungement as a prior conviction when addressing future criminal cases. In order to expunge a disorderly conduct charge that resulted in a conviction, consult a lawyer in your state for advice.