For one who is unfamiliar with California’s criminal courts, the charge of disturbing the peace may conjure up thoughts of a homeless man shouting obscenities at passing cars on a busy street. It may conjure up ideas that the charge is for someone who plays his stereo too loud at a party, disturbing neighbors late at night. It may also be two folks arguing too loud in a restaurant.
For those familiar with our criminal justice system, disturbing the peace can appropriately be called the “catch basin of minor offenses.” It is how a variety of low level charges are negotiated to a plea bargain to help a defendant avoid employment or immigration consequences or having a criminal record for a lapse of judgment.
For example, public intoxication, public urination (Penal Code § 314), criminal threats (Penal Code § 422), trespassing (Penal Code § 602), resisting arrest (Penal Code § 148(a)), lewd conduct in public (Penal Code § 647(a), prostitution or solicitation of prostitution (Penal Code § 647(b)) and sometimes minor shoplifting are resolved for a charge of violating Penal Code § 415.
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