What Constitutes Disorderly Conduct in Minnesota?

In most instances, the law is very specific about what is and what is not a crime and how that crime may be punished upon a finding of guilt. However, the behavior defined as disorderly is very broadly defined in Minnesota as a misdemeanor criminal offense. Essentially, “disorderly conduct” is a catch-all term for behavior that society frowns upon, but isn’t specifically listed or clearly defined. A law against singing loudly, for instance, would seem silly right up until someone is bellowing operatic right outside while your children are trying to sleep. That is why there are still disorderly conduct charges and here at Kinsella & Foley Defense, we want to help you understand this gray area and keep you out of trouble.


Disorderly conduct is a misdemeanor criminal offense and is punishable by up to 90 days in jail and a $1,000 in fine. A conviction will appear on your criminal record and you will be placed on probation.

Brawling or Fighting

If you want a little solid ground to start from, the easiest way to qualify for a disorderly conduct charge is by fist fighting and otherwise brawling in public spaces like bars, streets, parks, and store venues. Good Minnesotan residents are expected to keep their violent behaviors strictly to hurling softly spoken insults or smashing each other in video games. If you have thrown a punch or a kick, especially if it was more than one and you’d like to continue when the police arrive, you are at risk of a disorderly conduct charge.

Disturbing an Assembly or Meeting

Another very quick way to get yourself arrested for disorderly conduct and facing three months of jail time is to interrupt a lawful assembly or meeting. Anywhere people have gathered peaceably, the law strongly discourages you from interrupting in an unpeaceable manner. Shouting, throwing chairs, or otherwise doing things that could distract or frighten the group away from their purpose and gathering can be counted as disorderly conduct and you can bet that more than a few drunk wedding guests have found themselves on the wrong side of this charge.

Offensive, Obscene, or Abusive

Next is the assessment of how much you offended the people around you during the disorderly conduct behavior in question. If you said or did anything lewd or otherwise offensive, even if you did so in a soft voice with well-controlled behavior, your conduct will be legally disorderly. The same rules apply to abuse which, in most cases, means cursing at and insulting someone.

Making Enough Noise to “Arouse Alarm”

Noise of any type, made by you, your pets, or your equipment, can absolutely qualify you for a charge of disorderly conduct if they don’t charge you with being a nuisance instead. Drunken singing and shouting is a common cause of a disorderly conduct charge, but you can also get one for loud movies you won’t turn down, a dog you encourage to bark, or revving a loud truck engine in a quiet neighborhood. If you need to make noise for a while, be sure to look up the local regulations and keep your cool if the cops show up to talk to you about it.


It should be noted that even if police are called, if the disturbance is caused by an epileptic person having a seizure, the charge of disorderly conduct cannot stand. It is acknowledged that seizures are inherently disorderly and someone having a seizure can’t help if they yell or frighten others while it’s going on.

Getting Charged with Disorderly Conduct

Because disorderly conduct is a catch-all policy for any behavior that worries or upsets society, there are many ways to get charged. You can find yourself arrested at the end of a heated argument with a loved one, after a night of drinking with no memory of what you did to earn the charge, or even simply because your activities got a little rowdy and someone took exception. If something like this happens to you, remember that the consequences are very real, costly, and potentially damaging to your life. In many cases, an experienced and aggressive criminal defense attorney can avoid a conviction entirely. To speak with an experienced attorney in the area of disorderly conduct defense, contact us today. We’re always ready to help.