Attorney DeBruin represents clients from across lower Michigan.

Attorney DeBruin represents clients from across lower michigan.

Confident In The Fight,
Committed To Your Defense

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Crimes Against The Public And Peace

While some laws are designed to protect individuals from particular types of crimes, others are intended to protect the general public from disturbances or nuisances, or to protect public safety officers who are in the course of their duty. Crimes that disturb the peace or the public can be relatively minor misdemeanors, or can be more serious felonies when the public is endangered, such as in a riot. Crimes against the police also are more serious, particularly when they cause injury or harm.

Even if your charge is a relatively minor misdemeanor, the consequences of a conviction may last for years. If you are convicted of a crime against the peace, public or police, you may experience consequences that include:

  • Serving time in jail or prison
  • Payment of fines
  • A criminal record that can hinder your ability to find a job or rent an apartment
  • Effects on your immigration status that may include denial of an immigration visa, green card or citizenship, or deportation
  • Inability to get or keep a professional license to work as a lawyer, doctor, teacher, nurse, pharmacists or another licensed professional

Your best option for avoiding these kinds of consequences is to seek the help of an experienced Michigan criminal defense lawyer.

The penalties for criminal convictions detailed on this page were written into Michigan laws by the legislature. However, the Michigan Supreme Court recently decided a case that gives judges the authority to decide criminal penalties, which may differ from what’s written into statutes. A qualified Michigan criminal defense lawyer can explain the possible outcomes of your specific charge.

Common Types Of Public Nuisance Charges

There are a number of public nuisance offenses listed in the Michigan Penal Code. A sampling of a few of the most common types of charges include:

Resisting Arrest

You may be charged with resisting arrest under Section 750.81d when you assault, batter, wound, resist, obstruct, oppose or endanger a police officer, sheriff, deputy or another law enforcement officer when you know the officer is performing their duties. Under state law, resisting arrest is a felony offense with penalties that vary depending on whether the officer is injured and how seriously. The basic offense can be punished by up to two years in prison and a fine of up to $2,000.

The state statute also applies if you resist a firefighter, natural resource officer, U.S. Department of the Interior conservation officer, emergency medical personnel, or search and rescue personnel.

However, cities and counties also may have their own local resisting arrest ordinances that apply when you resist arrest in their jurisdictions. An experienced Michigan criminal defense lawyer can explain what laws might apply in your situation and what possible outcomes to expect if you or a family member has been charged.

Open Intoxicant And Open Container

It’s a misdemeanor crime in Michigan to have an open container or open intoxicant in a vehicle, even when you’re not the driver but are simply an occupant or passenger. An open container is one that is uncapped, has a broken seal or is otherwise open. An open container can be transported in the trunk of a vehicle, or in a locked glove box or behind the last upright seat if the vehicle doesn’t have a trunk.

A conviction can be punished by up to 93 days in jail and a fine of up to $500. There also may be consequences for your driver’s license, and you may face OWI charges if you are a driver with an open container in your vehicle.

Disorderly Person

In Michigan, a number of types of conduct can get you labeled a “disorderly person.” Under Section 750.167 of the Michigan Penal Code, a disorderly person is someone who:

  • Refuses or neglects to support their family
  • Is a common prostitute
  • Is a window peeper
  • Engages in an illegal occupation or business
  • Is intoxicated in public and endangering another person or property, or is causing a public disturbance
  • Engages in obscene or indecent conduct in public
  • Is a vagrant
  • Is begging in a public place
  • Is found loitering in a place where prostitution or lewd conduct is practiced
  • Is loitering around a police station, jail, hospital, court, or public building to solicit legal or bail bond business
  • Is jostling or roughly crowding people unnecessarily in a public place

A charge of being a disorderly person is a misdemeanor under Section 750.168 of the Michigan Penal Code. If convicted, you face up to 90 days in jail and a fine of up to $500.

However, if you are charged with being a disorderly person for running an illegal business or practicing an illegal occupation, the offense is a felony punishable by up to two years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000. A second or subsequent offense is a felony punishable by up to four years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

You also may be charged with a felony punishable by up to four years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000 for a second or subsequent conviction for refusing or neglecting to support your family within two years when your family is receiving public assistance.


Michigan defines the crime of riot under Section 752.541 as five or more people acting together to wrongfully engage in violent conduct and intentionally or recklessly causing a serious risk of public terror or alarm.

Section 752.542 makes it a crime to incite a riot, which the statute describes as while intending to cause a riot or to aid or abet the starting of a riot or maintaining of a riot, to encourage others to:

  • Commit unlawful violent or forceful acts
  • Unlawfully destroy or burn property
  • Unlawfully interfere with police, firefighters, National Guard members or other public safety officers performing riot duty

When you assemble or act together with four or more other people with the purpose of engaging in conduct that could be considered riot or intending to riot, you may be charged with unlawful assembly.

Rioting and inciting to riot are felony offenses in Michigan punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. Unlawful assembly also is a felony punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000.

Public Intoxication

Being drunk in public is not a criminal offense in Michigan, but if you are found to be incapacitated by alcohol in a public place, police may take you into protective custody under Section 330.1276 of the Michigan Mental Health Code. They can hold you for up to eight hours without your consent, and then you may be transferred to a hospital, emergency room or alcohol treatment facility.

Experienced Defense For Your Public Nuisance Charge

When you or a family member is charged with a crime against the peace, the public or the police, you should take that charge seriously. A conviction can have a lasting effect on your future, but an experienced Lansing criminal defense lawyer can help you avoid or reduce the penalties and consequences you face.

At DeBruin Law, PLLC, our goal is to get you the best possible outcome for your case that preserves your future. We understand that good people can be charged with these kinds of crimes just for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, and we will fight to protect your rights as your case moves through the criminal justice system.

We have experience representing people charged with crimes in Lansing, Ingham and Clinton counties, and will put that experience to work for you. Call us today at 517-731-0353 for a consultation about your case and your options for a defense.