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What constitutes disorderly conduct?

Disorderly conduct is a relatively vague term that can encompass numerous acts. In many cases, it is an additional charge when a person has committed other crimes. As an example, take the recent case of a Maryland man who received a disorderly conduct charge in addition to drug charges after he assaulted a police officer. 

In a majority of cases, disorderly conduct will be a misdemeanor. The convicted party can receive a fine up to $500 in addition to up to 60 days in jail. However, the punishments can become more severe depending on the exact circumstances surrounding the crime. Therefore, it helps to know exactly what actions constitute the crime.

Obstruction of passage in a public place

A person cannot prevent others from using the sidewalk or entering a public building. Public places include schools, theaters, hotels and parking lots. There is a separate law for individuals who prevent others from entering a medical facility, including women's health clinics. Interfering with access to a medical facility can carry harsher penalties. 

Failure to leave a public building

Many businesses have signs stating they have a right to refuse service to anyone. As a result, the establishment's owner may ask an individual to leave the premises. In the event the person refuses to leave and causes a scene, it can be grounds for arrest. 

Unlawful assembly

People have a right to protest, but there are restrictions on how people can protest in Maryland. For example, people can protest a business at the corporate address due to unfair labor practices. However, a person cannot picket in front of a neighbor's private residence due to a personal dispute.

Failure to follow police orders

At the scene of a crime or accident, police officers generally have to tell people to move along. Failure to do so can interfere with the police officers' work, and it can result in disorderly conduct charges. 

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