Thursday, February 14, 2013

Penal Law"240.20" aka "Disorderly Conduct"

As a Buffalo Area Criminal Defense lawyer, I am frequently explaining to clients the "popular" Penal Law"240.20" aka disorderly conduct. It is a violation, not a crime and will result in a sealing under 160.55   But It is important to point out  that a sealing under 160.55 does not seal the Buffalo City Court file, just the BPD arrest records. 

 If the original charge was a misdemeanor, this original charge that was reduced to a 240.20 might be accessible to background checkers and even the public at large
So, oftentimes, clients who are offered the 240.20 in the Buffalo Area Courts opt to try to get a further reduction to an ACD which results in a full sealing under CPL 160.50.

The New York PL 240.20 Disorderly Conduct Statute says that a violation  occurs when:
  a person, with intent to cause public inconvenience, annoyance or alarm, or recklessly creating a risk thereof: engages in one or more of the following activities:

1. fighting or engaging in violent, tumultuous or threatening

2.making unreasonable noise;

3. using abusive or obscene language, or making
obscene gesture in a public place;

4. disturbing any lawful assembly or
meeting of persons without lawful authority;

5. obstructing vehicular or pedestrian traffic;

6. congregates with other persons in a public place and refuses to
comply with a lawful order of the police to disperse;

7. creating a hazardous or physically offensive condition by any act
which serves no legitimate purpose.

When charged with a misdemeanor in The Buffalo Area, it is often very tempting to accept the 240.20 Disorderly Conduct when and if it is offered by the DA . Because  the 240.20, unlike a misdemeanor, is not a crime but just a violation which means that it will not create a criminal record. It means that a person (assuming they have no prior criminal convictions) does not have to answer yes  to the question of whether they have ever been convicted of a crime in the state of NY.

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