Stamford Breach of Peace Lawyer
Breach of peace is a common criminal charge in Connecticut because it covers such a wide variety of ordinary circumstances. Yelling at someone in public, getting baited into a heated physical or verbal fight, or even joining a peaceful protest can lead to circumstances resulting in a breach of peace arrest.
Unfortunately, while the situation may be common, the consequences of this offense can be highly problematic. A conviction, or even the arrest and charge itself, become a matter of public record accessible to anyone, and can negatively impact opportunities for employment, housing, loans, insurance, and more. That is why it is essential to take the charge seriously and work with an experienced defense attorney right away. When you meet with a Stamford breach of peace defense attorney, they can advise you how to proceed to achieve the best possible result.
Types of Breach of Peace Arrests
Connecticut law sets forth two classes of breach of the peace. The less serious, breach of the peace in the second degree, is a Class B misdemeanor. This crime is punishable by a term of imprisonment of up to 6 months and a fine of up to $1,000.
The more serious version of the crime, breach of the peace in the first degree, is classified as a Class D felony. In addition to the complications of a felony conviction, the crime also carries a minimum prison sentence of 1 year with a maximum of 5 years and a fine of up to $5,000.
Second Degree Breach of Peace
Connecticut code defines a variety of conduct that can be considered breach of peace in the second degree. One essential element of a Stamford arrest for breach of peace second degree is that the individual must either be acting to intentionally “cause inconvenience, annoyance or alarm” or acting so recklessly that the behavior creates a risk of causing inconvenience, annoyance, or alarm.
Stamford attorneys see arrests for second-degree breach of peace in Stamford if an individual acting either recklessly or with intent engages in one of the following types of conduct:
- Fighting or similarly threatening behavior in a public place
- Assaulting or hitting another individual
- Threatening to commit a crime against another person or their property
- Publicly posting or distributing information about another that is “offensive, indecent or abusive”
- Using “abusive or obscene” language or gestures in public
- Creating in public a hazardous or “physically offensive condition” without permission
Because some of these situations require that the behavior occurs in a public place in order to be considered breach of the peace, it is helpful to know that a “public place” is defined as “any area” used by the public or offered to the public. It does not matter whether the property is owned by a private party.
First Degree Breach of Peace
In contrast to the variety of situations that can trigger a violation of breach of the peace second-degree arrest in Stamford, the circumstances involved in a first-degree breach of the peace charge are much more specific.
First, the individual must have the same intent or reckless conduct as for second-degree breach of the peace. Second, to get arrested for first-degree breach of peace, the individual must place a fake bomb or imitation hazardous substance in a public place or in a place where it is likely to be found by others. A lawyer in Stamford could help if you have been accused of breaching the peace in the first-degree.
What Happens After a Breach of Peace Arrest in Stamford?
Not every breach of peace “arrest” involves being handcuffed, taken to a police station, booked, and either released or detained in jail. If a police officer issues someone a citation, also known as a misdemeanor summons, for breaching the peace but allows them to leave the scene without being detained, they have still been “arrested” and are still expected to appear for their initial arraignment hearing at the date, time, and location specified on their summons. This is generally within two weeks of the initial citation. Giving you precious little time to contact a lawyer. A person who fails to appear for this hearing may face subsequent arrest and end up receiving substantial criminal penalties that may go far beyond what their original charge could have warranted. To learn more about failure to appear warrants and charges, click here.
Do the Police Need an Arrest Warrant to Arrest Me?
No. The arrest described above is an “on-scene” arrest based on probable cause from what the officer is told and witnesses on scene. If someone makes a complaint after the fact, the police may apply for an arrest warrant.
When this happens, a police officer or investigator may question a prospective defendant about their actions. Whether this kind of conversation happens inside a police station, in a public setting, or even inside the residence of the person being questioned, everything they say during any interaction with law enforcement could be used against them as evidence of their guilt.
How Should I Interact With Police When Accused of Breach of Peace?
Regardless of the circumstances under which an allegation of breaching the peace arises, it is crucial to interact with law enforcement as calmly and politely as possible in the moment. If you have the opportunity to call a lawyer before talking to the police, do so. Anything you say to police can be used against you, even something innocent that is taken out of context.
What are Possible Defenses to Breach of Peace Allegations?
Because the exact nature of a “breach of peace” offense can vary significantly depending on what precisely a defendant allegedly did and who was allegedly impacted by their actions, there is no single best course of action when it comes to effectively contesting this kind of criminal charge. It is essential to understand every element of the prosecution’s case and work to present arguments specifically tailored to counter the prosecution’s main argument.
For example, if someone is charged with breaching the peace because someone else started a fight with them and they were defending themselves from physical harm, witness testimony and surveillance footage showing that their “tumultuous behavior” only occurred because of self-defense would be crucial to an ensuing case defense. Likewise, if a defendant did not intentionally try to harm or intimidate anyone else with their actions, it might be essential to specifically challenge a responding police officer’s beliefs about what happened that do not match up with reality.
Having help from a knowledgeable lawyer can prove vital to minimizing the repercussion of a breach of peace charge in Stamford. Depending on the situation, it may be possible to get charges dropped altogether, to plead a misdemeanor breach of peace charge down to a less severe infraction, or negotiate for participation in a diversionary program that could allow for a defendant’s charges to be dismissed if they successfully complete the program.
Contacting a Stamford Breach of Peace Attorney
Because intent is such an important element of the crime of breach of the peace, the statements and conduct of an individual charged with that crime are of tremendous importance.
Stamford breach of peace lawyers can provide advice on how to navigate proceedings in the safest manner to work toward a successful outcome in your case. Check out the over 300 five-star reviews of Mark Sherman Law at Avvo.com, and give us a call today to start building your defense.