NY Disorderly Conduct charges are codified in New York PL 240.20. Frequently, the disorderly conduct charge is not what you are arrested for, rather it is the charge that the prosecutor offers to resolve your case.

For example, let’s say you are charged with Assault in the Third Degree (New York PL 120.00(1)). After reviewing the case file, speaking to the complainant and being persuaded by Defense Counsel, the prosecutor offers a plea to Disorderly Conduct (New York PL 240.20 (1)) with a conditional discharge.

Although you were never arrested for disorderly conduct, or charged with PL 240.20, if you are interested in accepting the plea, this charge will be added to the docket for the purposes of disposition. Frequently, this is done to avoid giving an individual a criminal record, while still allowing the case to remain on the individual’s criminal history for a limited time period.

What Exactly is NY Disorderly Conduct under PL 240.20?

There are seven different Disorderly Conduct charges under New York PL 240.20. All of them require that the individual has the intent to cause public inconvenience, annoyance or alarm, or recklessly creates a risk of such. Specifically, the seven New York Disorderly Conduct Charges are:

  1. Engaging in fighting or in violent, tumultuous or threatening behavior (PL 240.20(1)); OR
  2. Making unreasonable noise (PL 240.20(2)); OR
  3. In a public place, using abusive or obscene language, or making an obscene gesture (PL 240.20(3)); OR
  4. Without lawful authority, disturbing any lawful assembly or meeting of persons (PL 240.20(4)); OR
  5. Obstructing vehicular or pedestrian traffic (PL 240.20(5)); OR
  6. Congregating with other persons in a public place and refuses to comply with a lawful order of the police to disperse (PL 240.20(6)); OR
  7. Creating a hazardous or physically offensive condition by any act which serves no legitimate purpose (PL 240.20(7)).

Typically, when the plea to disorderly conduct is offered, the plea is offered to subsection (1). When allocuting before a judge to the disorderly conduct charge, the Judge will ask if on the date of the incident, “you admit to being disorderly.” What does being disorderly mean, exactly? Pretty much anything. A colleague used to say that whenever he is late for court – driving fast and weaving in and out of traffic, he is “disorderly” within the meaning of Penal Law 240.20.

Sentencing for NY Disorderly Conduct

New York’s Disorderly Conduct under Penal Law Section 240.20 is a violation and not a crime. Pleading guilty to a violation does not add to your criminal record. Additionally, pleading guilty to a violation will not subject you to enhanced punishment on any subsequent federal case as there are no criminal history points associated with NY Disorderly Conduct (PL 240.20). Additionally, pleading guilty to a disorderly conduct charge won’t subject you to enhanced penalties on any subsequent misdemeanors or felonies. New York Disorderly Conduct charges do not make you a predicate for felony charges.

Under New York Law, the charge of disorderly conduct can be punishable by:

  • Up to 15 days jail
  • Time Served (which can be as short as the time that it takes you to get processed)
  • A conditional discharge
  • An unconditional discharge
  • A fine (usually associated with a property crime – like making graffiti)
  • Restitution (also associated with property crime, intended to make the victim whole)
  • Forfeiture (proceeds of criminal activity)

Or a combination of these. In practicality, disorderly conduct charges rarely result in jail time, unless the plea is offered instead of a misdemeanor with jail time because of mitigating circumstances – typically immigration reasons.

Does NY Disorderly Conduct Conviction Stay on My Record?

NY Disorderly Conduct under Penal Law 240.20 stays on your record for one year from the time that you take the plea. Then, it should be automatically sealed from your criminal record. However, law enforcement agencies when checking your background would still be able to see your disorderly conduct conviction and the underlying arrest charges. All other entities conducting your background checks, besides law enforcement would not be able to see your conviction for New York Penal Law 240.20, after it comes off your criminal record.

In theory, NY disorderly conduct violations under Penal Law 240.20 should come off your criminal record automatically after the expiration of that one year time period. However, that is not always the case. If you are applying for a new job that has a background check, child adoption or have any other life milestone that will require someone to review your criminal record, it is better to be safe than sorry and check your criminal history yourself first. It’s easy to do yourself, you don’t need a lawyer, and it’s relatively inexpensive.

How to Confirm That NY Disorderly Conduct is Off My Record?

To confirm whether NY disorderly conduct, PL 240.20 conviction has been taken off your record, you will need to request a criminal record check (also known as requesting your “rap sheet”). One of the ways to get your rap sheet is through the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The fee for the service is $18, and you can either apply for the FBI criminal record check online or through a U.S. Post Office.

You will be required to submit your fingerprints to the FBI for them to run them through their database and provide you with everything that comes back to your fingerprints. This will also include any sort of professional or weapons licensed that you’ve applied for that also required your fingerprints.

Steps for Requesting Your Rap Sheet from the FBI

STEP 1: REVIEW FBI FORM AND FILL IT OUT
You can review the form and submit your rap sheet request directly to the FBI. You can also apply through an approved channeler, which will also fingerprint you. However, additional costs will apply if going through an approved channeler. 

STEP 2: GET FINGERPRINTED
If requesting a rap sheet directly from the FBI, you will also need to provide fingerprints. FBI will accept FD-258 fingerprint cards on standard white stock. 

You can get fingerprinted by your local police department, but make sure to call ahead as not all precincts do it. New York City Police Department, for example does fingerprinting at some precincts and at the Headquarters. 

STEP 3: PAY PROCESSING FEE
The cost to request a rap sheet from the FBI is $18. You can apply for a fee waiver. 

STEP 4: SUBMIT APPLICATION AND WAIT
Once you submit your application, fingerprints and the fee, you wait to receive a response. If you are submitting electronically, the return time is 3 to 5 days. If you are submitting the request via mail you should expect to wait approximately 12 weeks.

What Do I Do If My NY Disorderly Conduct Conviction is Showing Up?

If your PL 240.20 conviction is showing up on your rap sheet after it is supposed to have been sealed, there are steps you can take to correct it. You can contact us for help, or you can do it yourself. If you are doing it yourself, the steps are:

  1. Go to the Clerk’s Office of the Court where your case was heard and request a certificate of disposition. There is a fee of about $10 that must be paid in exact cash. No change will be given.
  2. Make sure the certificate of disposition says “sealed” on it and that the Clerk stamps the certificate of disposition with an official court stamp.
  3. Submit your certificate of disposition to Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) with a letter asking them to correct the mistake on your rap sheet. You may also want to include a copy of the rap sheet, or whatever you have showing that the conviction is not sealed.
  4. If you’re having difficulty with getting a conviction sealed, please give us a call.

What Do I Say On My Job Application Regarding My Disorderly Conduct Conviction?

In New York, job applications ask you if you have ever been convicted of a crime. Under New York Labor Law, it is illegal to ask an applicant if they have ever been arrested for or charged with a crime. Similarly, a job employer cannot ask you about your sealed records or a Youthful Offender Adjudication.

So if you are asked on a job application if you have ever been convicted of a crime, your answer would be “no” for a NY Disorderly Conduct conviction under PL 240.20. That is because it’s a violation and not a crime.

What Do I Say On My College, Law School, Medical School Application About my Disorderly Conduct Charge?

It is important to review exactly how the question on the application is worded. Frequently, it specifically asks about criminal convictions, which would mean that you do not have to disclose it.

However, if the question is phrased in such a way that it applies to the disorderly conduct charge, you should consult an attorney for specific guidance on how to answer the question and what information to disclose. This is definitely something you should speak to an attorney about, because failing to disclose an arrest or a disorderly conduct on an application can have grave consequences on your future and your career.

Contact Us Regarding Your Disorderly Conduct Charge

If you have questions regarding PL 240.20, NY disorderly conduct charges, or a disorderly plea that you’ve taken, please feel free to give us a call. We can be reached through our contact us Form or by phone at (212)729-6082.