Maryland Arrest Warrants – Disorderly Conduct Richmond Virginia Code 18.2-415 Lawyers Maryland Massachusetts 18.2-57 18.2-416 18.2-404

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Disorderly Conduct Richmond Virginia Code 18.2-415 Lawyers Maryland Massachusetts 18.2-57 18.2-416 18.2-404



50 Va. App. 135

July 24, 2007, Decided

Martin heard Battle and his friends continue to argue among themselves. He then saw Battle make a “striking motion toward another individual.” Martin could not see whether a blow landed. Martin ran to them and ordered both to leave the sidewalk area. When Battle refused to obey, Martin repeated his order several times. Battle cursed Martin so loudly that spit came out of his mouth. Battle did not leave, and Martin arrested him for Disorderly Conduct in violation of Virginia Code § 18.2-415.

Whether the factual record does support the conviction?

The conduct exempted from the reach of Code § 18.2-415 includes only Title 18.2 crimes for which the defendant could be found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. It is not enough that the defendant could merely be prosecuted for a Title 18.2 crime because that requires only a showing of probable cause. The proviso only applies when a rational fact-finder could find the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt for a Title 18.2 crime. Any other view would lead to the anomaly of negating the disorderly conduct statute in its entirety even in cases where no rational factfinder could find the defendant guilty of any criminal offense “punishable” under Title 18.2.  The Va. Code Ann. § 18.2-415(A) conduct could not be, as the statute put it, “deemed to include” defendant’s assault on his one witness, because that action could be punishable under Va. Code Ann. § 18.2-57. Second, defendant’s subsection A conduct likewise could not include cursing at the off-duty police officer, because that could only be punished, if at all, as fighting words under Va. Code Ann. § 18.2-416. Finally, defendant’s refusal to obey said officer’s lawful order to move away from the sidewalk so others could come and go from the club in an unobstructed manner could have been punished under Va. Code Ann. § 18.2-404, which specifically criminalized the refusal by someone obstructing the free passage of others coming and going from a public place to move on when requested to do so by a law enforcement officer.

This court finds that the other-crimes proviso of Code § 18.2-415 applies as a matter of law to the disorderly conduct for which Battle was found guilty in this case. His conviction is therefore reversed and the corresponding arrest warrant dismissed.


These summaries are provided by the SRIS Law Group.  They represent the firm’s unofficial views of the Justices’ opinions.  The original opinions should be consulted for their authoritative content.

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