2006 Ohio Revised Code - 2917.04. Failure to disperse.

§ 2917.04. Failure to disperse.

(A)  Where five or more persons are participating in a course of disorderly conduct in violation of section 2917.11 of the Revised Code, and there are other persons in the vicinity whose presence creates the likelihood of physical harm to persons or property or of serious public inconvenience, annoyance, or alarm, a law enforcement officer or other public official may order the participants and such other persons to disperse. No person shall knowingly fail to obey such order. 

(B)  Nothing in this section requires persons to disperse who are peaceably assembled for a lawful purpose. 

(C) (1)  Whoever violates this section is guilty of failure to disperse. 

(2) Except as otherwise provided in division (C)(3) of this section, failure to disperse is a minor misdemeanor. 

(3) Failure to disperse is a misdemeanor of the fourth degree if the failure to obey the order described in division (A) of this section creates the likelihood of physical harm to persons or is committed at the scene of a fire, accident, disaster, riot, or emergency of any kind. 

HISTORY: 134 v H 511. Eff 1-1-74; 150 v S 57, § 1, eff. 3-22-04.

The effective date is set by section 4 of S.B. 57 (150 v  - ). 

Not analogous to former RC § 2917.04 (GC § 12824-1; 101 v 100; Bureau of Code Revision, 10-1-53), repealed 134 v H 511, § 2, eff 1-1-74. 

Analogous to former RC § 2923.51 (132 v H 996), repealed 134 v H 511, § 2, eff 1-1-74.


Effect of Amendments

S.B. 57, Acts 2003, effective March 22, 2004, rewrote (C). 


19xx Committee Report or Comment.

1974 Committee Comment to H 511

This section is designed to provide a procedure for "reading the riot act," and to furnish a simple, easily proved, and minor offense essential for the effective control of disorders. 

Under certain conditions, disorderly assemblies tend to become riotous. Authorities on riot control uniformly stress the necessity for quick action to break up such assemblies before they get out of hand for several reasons. First, the larger the crowd the more a rioter feels safety from arrest by reason of anonymity. Second, a crowd, even though only bystanders, increases the tumult and disorderly atmosphere and thus gives psychological encouragement to the actual rioters. Third, the presence of the merely curious makes it difficult to separate the sheep from the lambs in controlling the disorder, i.e. police cannot readily isolate the actual rioters from the observers. 

Experience has shown that law enforcement officers need a procedure for ordering a potential trouble spot quickly cleared of both those who are disorderly and those who are merely bystanders. Moreover, the procedure should be enforceable through an easily proved but minor offense, so that police may act before more serious offenses are committed. This section is designed to meet this need. 

Under this section, ordering dispersal is not a condition precedent to conviction of an offender for riot, aggravated riot, or other offense. Also, the section does not specify a particular method for ordering dispersal, and the order may be given in any way dictated by the circumstances. To sustain a conviction under the section, however, it must be shown that the offender knew of the order. 

The section makes clear that it may not be used to interfere with free speech and assembly contrary to the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. See, Gregory v. Chicago, 394 U.S. 111, 22 L.Ed. 2d 134, 89 S.Ct. 946 (1969); Toledo v. Sims, 14 O.O.2d 66, 169 N.E.2d 516 (Toledo Municipal Ct., 1960). In this vein, also, an essential element of an offense under this section is that the presence of those not engaging in disorderly conduct must be exacerbating the risk of harm inherent in the conduct of those who are actually disorderly. If simply being there does not have such effect, then failure to obey an order to disperse is not a violation of this section. 

Failure to disperse is a minor misdemeanor. 

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