Disorderly conduct

We received a citation in the mail for disorderly conduct but never had police contact. Can they do that?

Asked on May 31, 2009 under Criminal Law, Wisconsin


B. B., Member, New Jersey Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

Yes, they can do that, and most people would prefer getting something like this rather than being arrested, or having a peace officer come to the door to hand it to them.

I suspect that there is a citizen's complaint behind this.  But whether it's a neighbor or a police officer, any charges against you have to be proved beyond a reasonable doubt.

You might well want to have an attorney's advice about this, based on all of the facts (once you find out what this is about). One place you can find qualified criminal defense lawyers is our website, http://attorneypages.com

M.S., Member, Connecticut Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

In order to answer your question, you will need to provide some additional information.  The general rule is that police can issue a summons for disorderly contact as long as they have probable cause to believe that you have violated your state's disorderly conduct statute.  However, you do not specify who "they" are when you ask, "can they do that?"  If you never had any police contact, how did you get the citation?  What authority issued the citation?  For example, was it from a mall security guard?  Or, did you not have any police contact up until the time that you received the summons?  You need to be more specific in this regard in order for an attorney to determine if the issuing officer had the authority to issue the summons that you received.  Therefore, here are my suggestions.  First, look at the "citation" that you received, and determine A) upon what authority it was written, and perhaps more importantly B) whether it requires your appearance in court.  If your appearance in court is required, it is imperative that you show up at your court date regardless of any lingering doubts with respect to the authority upon which the summons was issued.  Failure to appear could subject you to additional penalties (it is a felony in CT punishable by a year in jail) -- therefore, your first priority should be to address the charges, and your second priority should be to resolve any outstanding questions about the authority upon which they were issued.

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