If I recently was issued a disorderly conduct ticket at a bar, should I plead not guilty to try and reduce the fine or should I just say guilty and be done with it?

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If I recently was issued a disorderly conduct ticket at a bar, should I plead not guilty to try and reduce the fine or should I just say guilty and be done with it?

I was engaged in an argument with the bouncers. They would not let me in because they said I was too intoxicated, but I was not. It escalated to physical levels as I pushed one of the bouncers in the face. After the ticket I went to several other bars to build my case that I was not that drunk, and had a legitimate reason to be upset upon my denial from entry. Violence is never the answer I know, and I wish I didn’t push him.

Asked on May 3, 2015 under Criminal Law, Wisconsin

Answers:

B.H.F., Member, Texas State Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

You have several details in your question which would strongly indicate that you are guilty of the offense of disorderly conduct-- because as you noted, violence is never the answer and thus the reason for the existence of that statute.  With that being said, however, I would still recommend that you arrange for a consultation with a criminal defense attorney and possibily a civil attorney.... let me explain why....

Even though, facially, it looks like you are guilty, you may still have a defense based on other details that you could develop in a conversation with a criminal defense attorney.  Cases are rarely as black and white as they appear on paper.  Second, you want to know what your plea options are before you enter a plea and the consquences of each option.  Some jurisdictions offer conditional dismissals for first time offenders-- so there may be a way to "earn" a dismissal without challenging the charges outright.  These types of dismissal vary by jurisdiction, so be sure to talk to a defense attorney that practices in the jurisdiction that will handle the charge.  You don't mention what your employment is, but any conviction can have a potential impact on your career or licensing.  For example, nurses are not usually allowed to have drug convictions.  Some schools won't let parents with any violent offenses come to the school grounds for their kiddos events.  A conviction may not affect what you .... but you still need to make sure so that you don't risk your livelihood or access to other opportunities. 

The reason I suggest talking to a civil attorney is because it sounds like there is more to the story and you may have some type of claim for the behavior of the bouncers. It's not as important that you visit with a civil attorney, but it couldn't hurt if you think there was something amiss with their treatment of you---especially since it was so different than the other bars.

Many attorneys these days will offer free or inexpensive consultations.  Some will even offer consults over the phone.  Talk to at least two defense attorneys so that you can develop a constant theme of how your case would be handled in your jurisdiction.

I know this sounds like a lot of leg work, but we have just seen so many people enter a plea of guilty to little things and not really understand the long term impact on their lives.  But certainly, if a misdemeanor doesn't bother you, it will be cheaper to simply enter a plea.  The main thing is that you know and understand the consequences since this is considered an "act of violence" type offense.


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