Each state has its own laws that prohibit behavior that causes public disturbance or breaches the peace. A West Virginia statute specifically outlaws disorderly conduct. This law exists to promote public safety.
If you are not aware of what constitutes disorderly conduct, you may face criminal charges by partaking in disruptive behaviors. Here is an outline of what constitutes disorderly conduct in West Virginia and the penalties you can face if you receive a conviction.
According to the West Virginia criminal code, you commit disorderly conduct by disturbing the peace. This includes violent, boisterous, profane or indecent language or conduct. It also includes making unreasonably loud noises with the intention of alarming or annoying other people. Continuing such conduct after a police officer asks you to stop also counts as disorderly behavior.
These acts are unlawful in the following areas:
- Offices and office buildings
- Government-owned buildings
- Mobile home parks
- Common areas of dormitories and apartment buildings
- Common areas of shopping centers and malls
- Public parking areas
Additionally, the law prohibits this conduct in the catch-all term of "any public place." This means any area readily accessible by members of the public, including restaurants and retail establishments.
Disorderly conduct is a misdemeanor offense, which is punishable by a fine of $400 and jail time of 24 hours. Many other states treat disorderly conduct as a petty violation, but it is a more serious criminal act in West Virginia.
Sometimes, the line between public demonstration and disorderly conduct is not clear. In some states, the law does not make a distinction between protesting and disturbing the peace. But the law in West Virginia states that nothing in the criminal code should be taken as a way to deter the orderly and lawful right to demonstrate for public policy issues. This means you cannot get arrested for lawfully supporting or protesting issues.