Disorderly Conduct

The Law

A person commits disorderly conduct if he or she intentionally or knowingly:

  1. uses abusive, indecent, profane, or vulgar language in a public place, and the language by its very utterance tends to incite an immediate breach of the peace;
  2. makes an offensive gesture or display in a public place, and the gesture or display tends to incite an immediate breach of the peace;
  3. creates, by chemical means, a noxious and unreasonable odor in a public place;
  4. abuses or threatens a person in a public place in an obviously offensive manner;
  5. makes unreasonable noise in a public place other than a sport shooting range or in or near a private residence that he has no right to occupy;
  6. fights with another in a public place;
  7. discharges a firearm in a public place other than a public road or a sport shooting range;
  8. displays a firearm or other deadly weapon in a public place in a manner calculated to alarm;
  9. discharges a firearm on or across a public road;
  10. exposes his anus or genitals in a public place and is reckless about whether another may be present who will be offended or alarmed by his act; or
  11. for a lewd or unlawful purpose:
    • enters on the property of another and looks into a dwelling on the property through any window or other opening in the dwelling;
    • while on the premises of a hotel or comparable establishment, looks into a guest room not the person’s own through a window or other opening in the room; or
    • while on the premises of a public place, looks into an area such as a restroom or shower stall or changing or dressing room that is designed to provide privacy to a person using the area.



If an individual commits the crime of disorderly conduct, the punishment is a <class C misdemeanor>. However, if disorderly conduct is committed under (7) or (8), it is a <Class B misdemeanor>.


A possible defense is if an individual had significant provocation for his or her abusive or threatening conduct; the individual may have a defense to his or her act. Under (7) or (9), it is a defense if the person who discharged the firearm had a reasonable fear of bodily injury to the person or to another by a dangerous wild animal.

Additionally, words that may be considered abusive, profane, indecent, vulgar, or threatening, may not be prohibited by law. Under the Constitution of the United States of America and specifically the First Amendment, only fighting words or conduct can be prohibited; fighting words or conduct are words or conduct that is likely to cause an ordinary person to react in a violent manner. There is no laundry list stating what words and conduct arise to the level of “fighting;” it can only be determined by using the facts and circumstances of the situation. Many First Amendment issues are raised in the offense of disorderly conduct.

The exact language of this law, further details, and additional punishment concerns can be found in section 42.01 of the Texas Penal Code (see Links). None of this information can take place of the information, knowledge, and expertise provided by a licensed attorney.


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