Disturbing the Peace: California Penal Code 415(1)

Disturbing the Peace: California Penal Code 415(1)

California Penal Code section 415(1) is commonly referred to as disturbing the peace. It makes it a crime to fight, or challenge someone to fight in a public place. To be convicted of this crime, the district attorney must prove all of the following elements.

  1. You willfully and unlawfully fought or challenged someone else to fight.

Willfully means that you purposefully intended to fight or challenge someone to a fight. The fight must be unlawful, meaning that you were not legally authorized to fight.

  1. You were in a public location, or on the grounds of a public location.

You must be in a public location. For purposes of PC 415(1) a public place is defined as a location, building or facility that is open to the public. Places like sports stadiums, parks, bars, grocery stores, parking lots etc. are considered public places. There is a separate code section for fighting or challenging someone to a fight if it took place on school grounds.

California Penal Code Section 415(1) is a misdemeanor. The max penalty is 90 days in jail and up to a 400 dollar fine.

As you can see, it is fairly easy to be charged with this type of crime. However, due to the somewhat vague definitions and elements of this crime, the right attorney can get the case dismissed or reduced. One way to get a PC 415(1) dismissed is by proving that you were acting in self defense or defense of another. If the other individual was the initial aggressor, or you were trying to protect someone else, than you have a right to fight, or challenge the other to a fight. Further, this charge can also be reduced to a infraction. An infraction can only subject you to a fine and will not put a misdemeanor on your record.

Hiring the right attorney can mean the difference between getting your case dismissed or spending time in jail. If you have been charged with this crime, hire a competent attorney who can effectively assert all your defenses and offer the right evidence to the judge and district attorney, resulting in a dismissal or reduction.

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