NY Penal Law 240.20: Disorderly Conduct – Not an ACD, but a Good Non-Criminal Disposition

A skilled New York criminal defense attorney may be able to beat your criminal case outright or work out a great deal for his or her clients in the face of overwhelming evidence. Sometimes there is a technicality requiring dismissal of the case such as a speedy trial issue or a facial insufficiency problem with the accusatory instrument. Other times, through hard work and perseverance, your criminal defense attorney may be able to get you a deal that avoids any criminal record at all. While an Adjournment in Contemplation of Dismissal (ACD)is the ultimate goal in a case where a deal is reached, a second option is a Disorderly Conduct plea.

As previously discussed in an earlier entry, an ACD will result in your case being dismissed and sealed within six months to a year. Although a Disorderly Conduct will not be dismissed, a plea to this charge will result in a conviction for a violation. Not only is a violation not a crime, but the violation will be sealed as well.

Disorderly Conduct, Penal Law 240.20, has many subdivisions. According to the Penal Law, a person is guilty of this violation when, “with intent to cause public inconvenience, annoyance or alarm, or recklessly creating a risk thereof,” a person does one of the following:

(1) Engages in violent or threatening behavior (2) Makes unreasonable noise (3) Uses obscene language or gestures in a public place (4) Disturbs a lawful assembly without any lawful authority (5) Obstructs vehicular or pedestrian traffic (6) Congregates with others in a public place and refuse to disperse despite police requests (7) Creates a hazardous condition by any act which serves no legitimate purpose.

Well, that sounds fine and good, but if you are charged with a felony of Grand Larceny for stealing $2,750 then how can you plead to a violation of Disorderly Conduct if your actions did not fall into one of the above categories? Although Disorderly Conduct is not a “lesser included” offense that naturally stems from Grand Larceny or other potential charges, prosecutors offer this disposition as an alternative to the much more significant crime that you are charged with. A Disorderly Conduct is a practical means negotiated between prosecutors and criminal defense attorneys to avoid any criminal ramifications for the crime you are alleged to have committed. Certainly, a plea to a crime of theft, especially a felony, would have serious consequences on your life. Alternatively, a plea to a Disorderly Conduct, if appropriate in your particular circumstance, would have significantly less.

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