2012 Wisconsin Statutes & Annotations
947. Crimes against public peace, order and other interests.
947.01 Disorderly conduct.
947.01 Disorderly conduct.
(1) Whoever, in a public or private place, engages in violent, abusive, indecent, profane, boisterous, unreasonably loud or otherwise disorderly conduct under circumstances in which the conduct tends to cause or provoke a disturbance is guilty of a Class B misdemeanor.
(2) Unless other facts and circumstances that indicate a criminal or malicious intent on the part of the person apply, a person is not in violation of, and may not be charged with a violation of, this section for loading, carrying, or going armed with a firearm, without regard to whether the firearm is loaded or is concealed or openly carried.
History: 1977 c. 173; 1979 c. 131; 2011 a. 35.
The defendant was properly convicted of disorderly conduct when he appeared on a stage wearing a minimum of clothing intending to and succeeding in causing a loud reaction in the audience. State v. Maker, 48 Wis. 2d 612, 180 N.W.2d 707 (1970).
An attorney was properly convicted under this section for refusing to leave a ward in a mental hospital until he had seen a client after having made statements in the presence of patients that caused some to become agitated. State v. Elson, 60 Wis. 2d 54, 208 N.W.2d 363 (1973).
It was not disorderly conduct for 4 people to enter an office with other members of the public for the purpose of protesting the draft and to refuse to leave on orders of the police when their conduct was not otherwise disturbing. State v. Werstein, 60 Wis. 2d 668, 211 N.W.2d 437 (1973).
This statute does not require a victim, but when the disorderly conduct is directed at a person, that person is the victim for the purpose of prosecuting the perpetrator for intimidating a victim under s. 940.44. State v. Vinje, 201 Wis. 2d 98, 548 N.W.2d 118 (Ct. App. 1996), 95-1484.
A "true threat" is a statement that a speaker would reasonably foresee that a listener would reasonably interpret as a serious expression of a purpose to inflict harm, as distinguished from hyperbole, jest, innocuous talk, expressions of political views, or other similarly protected speech. It is not necessary that the speaker have the ability to carry out the threat. State v. Perkins, 2001 WI 46, 243 Wis. 2d 141, 626 N.W.2d 762, 99-1924.
Purely written speech, even written speech that fails to cause an actual disturbance, can constitute disorderly conduct, but the state has the burden to prove that the speech is constitutionally unprotected "abusive" conduct. "Abusive" conduct is conduct that is injurious, improper, hurtful, offensive, or reproachful. "True threats" clearly fall within the scope of this definition. State v. Douglas D. 2001 WI 47, 243 Wis. 2d 204, 626 N.W.2d 725, 99-1767.
Application of the disorderly conduct statute to speech alone is permissible under appropriate circumstances. When speech is not an essential part of any exposition of ideas, when it is utterly devoid of social value, and when it can cause or provoke a disturbance, the disorderly conduct statute can be applicable. State v. A.S. 2001 WI 48, 243 Wis. 2d 173, 626 N.W.2d 712, 99-2317.
Disorderly conduct does not necessarily require disruptions that implicate the public directly. This section encompasses conduct that tends to cause a disturbance or disruption that is personal or private in nature, as long as there exists the real possibility that the disturbance or disruption will spill over and disrupt the peace, order, or safety of the surrounding community as well. Sending repeated, unwelcome, and anonymous mailings was "otherwise disorderly conduct." State v. Schwebke, 2002 WI 55, 253 Wis. 2d 1, 644 N.W.2d 666, 99-3204.
Defiance of a police officer's order to move is itself disorderly conduct if the order is lawful. Braun v. Baldwin, 346 F.3d 761 (2003).
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