Disturbing the peace

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Disturbing the peace is a crime generally defined as the unsettling of proper order in a public space through one's actions. This can include creating loud noise by fighting or challenging to fight, disturbing others by loud and unreasonable noise (including loud music), or using profanity.

Disturbing the peace is typically considered a misdemeanor or an infraction depending on the jurisdiction and is often punishable by either a fine or a brief term in jail. On other rare occasions it is considered an ordinance violation, the lowest level of offense. In most Commonwealth jurisdictions, a person held in breach of the peace will not have a criminal record entered against their name[citation needed], which record could otherwise hurt the person's employment prospects (often seriously) and could adversely affect how he or she is viewed and treated by law-enforcement authorities, e.g., what if any bond he or she is granted if arrested in the future.

A violation of a noise ordinance is in most jurisdictions not considered a disturbance of the peace unless the perpetrator has disregarded an affirmative request that he or she reduce the noise to a reasonable level.[citation needed]

Standards for whether to charge someone with disturbance of the peace are highly subjective, and in many jurisdictions courts are highly deferential to the opinion of the arresting/charging officer as to whether the accused's actions violated the law (even though in theory the officer's testimony addresses only questions of fact, whereas questions of the law's applicability to those facts are left to the trying court alone).[1] Many local ordinances prohibiting disturbance of the peace exhibit a problematic degree of vagueness, occasionally to the point that courts deem them unconstitutional (in United States law) or violative of due process (in both United States and Commonwealth jurisdictions).[citation needed]

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