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What does a disorderly conduct charge mean in South Carolina?

Disorderly conduct, also known as public disorderly conduct or PDC, is a different kind of crime. When charged with disorderly conduct, you are not accused of assault, theft or any damage to property. (Note that those separate offenses may be charged in addition to a PDC charge, however.) Instead, when police charge you with a PDC, they are claiming that you are boisterous, drunk or loud in a public place.

South Carolina’s disorderly conduct law

Each state has its own disorderly conduct or disturbing the peace statute, including South Carolina. Our state’s law makes it a crime to commit “public disorderly conduct,” which is described as:

  • Being on a highway, public gathering or public place “in a grossly intoxicated condition or [conducting] himself in a disorderly or boisterous manner.”
  • Using language considered “obscene or profane” in public, or “in hearing distance of any schoolhouse or church.”
  • Discharging a firearm while intoxicated or “feigning to be under the influence” without just cause and within 50 yards of a public road or highway.

Disorderly conduct is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a $100 fine. This fine does not include assessments/court costs.  However, the statute gives the judge the discretion to defer sentencing if the defendant pleads guilty and has no prior disorderly conduct convictions. Instead, the defendant can attend an addiction treatment program or pursue a conditional discharge after a guilty plea.

Don’t let a disorderly conduct charge disrupt your future

Many people charged with disorderly conduct are young adults who went to a bar with friends, had too much to drink and lost control. If you are in this situation, you do not want a relatively minor criminal charge to affect your college degree or your future career. Though it is a misdemeanor, a conviction or guilty plea can last on your record and will be available for future employers, landlords and volunteer organizations to see.

Because of the long-lasting repercussions, it makes sense to hire a defense attorney to help you deal with a disorderly conduct charge. An experienced defense lawyer will know your best options for possibly getting the charge dropped or reduced.