Public nuisance offenses are ones in which the entire public may be considered the “victim” of a crime, and may involve actions such as being too noisy in public, being drunk in public, or being lewd in public. In general, public nuisance charges are ones that offend the public’s sensibilities, although sometimes they also may involve risk of physical harm or property damage, such as the offense of rioting.
Some public nuisance charges in Indiana are relatively minor, but it’s important to remember that they still are crimes, and can involve serious consequences if you’re convicted. Some public nuisance charges may be felonies, and you can be sentenced to as much as 3 years in jail or prison. An Indianapolis public crimes lawyer at Hessler Law can aggressively defend your rights.
When you’re convicted of a public nuisance offense, the possible consequences you may experience include:
- Jail or prison time
- Fines of hundreds to thousands of dollars
- A permanent criminal record that can affect your ability to get a job or rent an apartment
- Possible suspension or denial of a professional license, such as to teach or practice law, medicine, nursing, or pharmacy
- Possible immigration consequences, including denial of a visa, green card, or citizenship, or deportation
However, an experienced Indiana public crimes lawyer may be able to help you avoid or reduce the effects of a public nuisance conviction and preserve your future.
Common Types of Public Nuisance Offenses
There are numerous offenses considered public nuisance crimes that are found throughout Indiana’s various code sections. A sampling of some of the most common public nuisance charges includes:
You may be charged with disorderly conduct in Indiana when you are suspected of recklessly, knowingly, or intentionally:
- Fighting or engaging in “tumultuous conduct” such as a tussle on the sidewalk outside of a bar
- Being unreasonably noisy and continuing after being asked to stop, such as blasting a stereo in a way that disturbs other people
- Disrupting a lawful assembly of people, such as a town hall meeting
The basic offense of disorderly conduct is a Class B misdemeanor punishable by up to 180 days in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. However, disorderly conduct can be a felony when:
- The offense is committed at an airport and it adversely affects airport security
- The offense is committed near a burial, funeral, or memorial service and adversely affects the burial, funeral, or memorial service
The felony penalties for disorderly conduct vary depending on whether the offense was committed before or after July 1, 2014, when new felony classifications and penalties went into effect in Indiana.
- Before July 1, 2014 — Disorderly conduct at an airport or funeral is a Class D felony punishable by 6 months to 3 years of incarceration and a fine of up to $10,000.
- After July 1, 2014 — Disorderly conduct at an airport or near a funeral is a Level 6 felony punishable by 6 months to 2 ½ years of incarceration and a fine of up to $10,000.
Indiana law describes rioting as being part of an unlawful assembly and recklessly, knowingly, or intentionally engaging in tumultuous conduct. Tumultuous conduct is defined as conduct that has a likelihood of resulting in serious physical injury or substantial property damage. Tumultuous conduct might include actions such as throwing rocks, smashing store windows, or setting trash cans on fire.
Rioting is a Class A misdemeanor in Indiana punishable by up to 1 year in jail and a fine of up to $5,000. However, it may be charged as a felony if you’re suspected of committing the offense while armed with a deadly weapon. The penalties for a felony conviction of rioting depend on whether the offense was committed before or after July 1, 2014, when new felony classifications and penalties went into effect.
- Before July 1, 2014 — Rioting while armed with a deadly weapon is a Class D felony punishable by 6 months to 3 years of incarceration and a fine of up to $10,000.
- After July 1, 2014 — Rioting while armed with a deadly weapon is a Level 6 felony punishable by 6 months to 2 ½ years of incarceration and a fine of up to $10,000.
You may be charged with a crime in Indiana when you are suspected of being intoxicated by drugs or alcohol in a public place if your intoxication:
- Endangers your life
- Endangers someone else’s life
- Breaches the peace or threatens to breach the peace
- Harasses, annoys, or alarms someone else
You may similarly be charged with public intoxication for being intoxicated on a common carrier, such as an airplane, bus, or train, or in an airport, train station, or bus depot.
Public intoxication is a Class B misdemeanor offense in Indiana, punishable by up to 180 days in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.
Some people get a thrill from being exhibitionists or engaging in sexual conduct in public. Public displays of affection like kissing or holding hands won’t land you in jail, but you may find yourself facing a misdemeanor or even felony charge in Indiana if you’re suspected of knowingly or intentionally doing any of the following in public:
- Having sex
- Engaging in deviate or other sexual conduct
- Being nude in public with the intent of arousing your or someone else’s sexual desires
- Fondling your genitals or someone else’s genitals
- Being nude in public with the intent of being seen by a minor under age 16
Any of these actions may be charged as the crime of public indecency, which in general is a Class A misdemeanor in Indiana. The penalties upon conviction may include up to 1 year in jail and a fine of up to $5,000.
However, public indecency may be a felony offense when you have a prior unrelated public indecency conviction. Felony penalties depend on whether the offense was committed before or after July 1, 2014, when new felony classes and penalties went into effect in Indiana.
- Before July 1, 2014 — A second or subsequent conviction for public indecency is a Class D felony punishable by 6 months to 3 years of incarceration and a fine of up to $10,000.
- After July 1, 2014 — A second or subsequent conviction for public indecency is a Level 6 felony punishable by 6 months to 2 ½ years of incarceration and a fine of up to $10,000.
Indiana’s public indecency statute also includes the lesser offense of indecent exposure, which involves having sex, engaging in sexual conduct, fondling your own or someone else’s genitals, or being nude in a place that isn’t public where you can be seen by people other than the occupants or invitees. This would include actions such as standing nude in a window with the purpose of “flashing” passersby. Indecent exposure is a Class C misdemeanor punishable by up to 60 days in jail and a fine of up to $500.
Experienced Defense For Your Indiana Public Nuisance Charge
When you or a family member faces a public nuisance charge in Indianapolis or the surrounding area, you stand your best chance at avoiding a conviction or experiencing less serious penalties and consequences if you seek help from an experienced Indianapolis public crimes lawyer.
It’s never a foregone conclusion that you’ll be convicted of a crime, and a qualified Indianapolis public crimes lawyer who knows the courts, the prosecutors, and the judges can help you navigate the criminal justice system and come out the other side prepared to move on with your life after the stress and uncertainty of a criminal charge.
At Hessler Law, we have experience defending people accused of all types of crimes, as well as prior experience on the other side of the process in prosecution. That experience puts us in a position to look at all facets of your case, anticipate a prosecutor’s arguments, and prepare a defense strategy designed to get you the best possible outcome. Call us for a consultation with an Indianapolis criminal defense attorney to discuss your public nuisance charge today.
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