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Failure to Disperse

July 20, 2016

In New York, failure to disperse can involve two or more people congregating in a disorderly way in a public space. One can be charged with the offense if people are at risk of being harmed or otherwise seriously inconvenienced by the act. Causing annoyance or a sense of alarm can also be grounds for being charged with disorderly conduct. Failing to disperse if told to disperse by a peace officer or public servant can result in being charged with the offense.

What is failure to disperse?

Two or more people must be gathered in an area. The commanding officer must ask the individuals to depart from that given area. If the person refuses and doesn’t comply with the request, that individual may be arrested in order to restore peace and order. The officer only has to believe that there is a risk of injury to a person or property.

What’s at stake?

If charged with the offense, a person can be arrested. If the person ends up being arrested, they may be subject to jail time and fines if convicted. An attorney would be vital to proving that the person was not violating the law at the time of the incident.

Circumstances leading up to the offense

The law enforcement personnel may see that the peace in a public space is about to be compromised. If the environment feels conducive to an impending riot or other disturbance, an officer can request that the crowd disperse. If the officer makes the request and the crowd fails to disperse, the individual can be arrested.

Is it a demeanor?

The matter is normally treated as a demeanor. The person may be considered guilty of the offense if they remain present at the place where assembled if told to move. It is also considered a misdemeanor to assemble at a given space with the specific intent of disturbing the peace or committing an otherwise unlawful act. Not adhering to this request is grounds for arrest.

Various scenarios where one can be charged with the offense

There are several common scenarios for which a person can be charged with this offense. This charge is normally applied to incidents of fights, protests, assemblies, public misconduct, and conflict with the police. In the case of a serious incident, this charge may be used to create stiffer penalties for those engaged in a threatening or severe crime.

How we help

Failure to disperse can be a serious offense subject to jail time and penalties if convicted. The serious matter should always be handled by a qualified attorney with substantial experience in this area of law. This is because it isn’t uncommon for an officer to add on an arbitrary charge that could make the charges much more severe for the person. A simple minor offense coupled with a failure to disperse charge could quickly add up to ten years or more in prison in the worst case scenario. The person can be directly involved in the incident or simply be a bystander watching the incident unfold. The arresting officer can exercise latitude when determining whether or not to charge an individual with the offense.

Being charged and convicted with this offense can complicate the process of finding gainful employment and secure housing. If charged with an offense, it is important to have an aggressive defense attorney on hand to build a strong case. The attorney can identify the best legal strategy to helping avoid jail time and penalties for the offense. If the case should make it to trial, a highly competent attorney can help in securing a “not guilty” verdict.

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