Disorderly Conduct and DJ Evo
A state senator called 911 three times as his frustration mounted over the loud music at a downtown bar and the failure of Springfield police to fix the problem. On the third call, Senator Antonio Munoz finally identified himself and told the dispatcher that he had already contacted the director of the state police to complain that Springfield police had failed to stop the music coming from Marley’s Pub, a nightclub located below the downtown residence where Munoz was staying. A short time later, Springfield police arrested Sean Layton, known professionally as DJ Evo, and charged him with disorderly conduct for the loud music. As reported by WMAY NEWS.
This post will discuss the criminal charge of Disorderly Conduct and what is needed to sustain that charge. We will look at the case of Mr. Layton, through redacted police reports obtained through a FOIA request by WMAY. In addition, Daniel Noll will be appearing live on Bishop on Air around 11:30 on December 12, 2013 to discuss this case.
What is Disorderly Conduct?
Disorderly Conduct is a misdemeanor offense in Illinois. For lack of a better description, it is a catch-all criminal statute. What we mean by that is if criminal conduct does fit neatly into another criminal offense, often times police officers will arrest a person for Disorderly Conduct.
The most common section of the disorderly conduct statute people are arrested for is 720 ILCS 5/26-1(a)(1) which states that a person commits the offense of Disorderly Conduct when he or she knowingly does any act in such an unreasonable manner as to alarm or disturb another and to provoke a breach of the peace. (emphasis added) This section “is phrased in such a way as to state that alarming or disturbing must be in conjunction with the provocation and does not list the three elements in the disjunctive…” People v. Trester, 421 N.E.2d 959, 960 (1981)
Moreover, the phrasing of the statute indicates that the prohibited conduct must actually bring about a breach of the peace and not merely tend to do so as the comments indicate. Id. Thus, under the definition, a challenge to commit acts that would constitute a breach of the peace would be insufficient to constitute the offense. Id.
In addition, by looking at subsections (a)(2)-(12), it is clear that the legislature intended “breach of peace” to mean acts or conduct that seriously endanger or disturb public peace and order. For example, 720 ILCS 5/26-1(a)(2) addresses false fire alarms. Subsection (a)(3) criminalizes false bomb threats and 26-1(a)(4) focuses on false police reports.
DJ EVO and the Loud Music
This case will be very hard to prove for the Sangamon County State’s Attorney’s Office if they decide to file it. The reason is because they will need to convince a jury, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Mr. Layton played his music to provoke the peace. His defense is simple: He played the music for his job.
Ultimately, if Mr. Layton is charged, a jury will have to weigh the credibility of the witnesses and review the evidence to determine if he is guilty. That is the ultimate duty of the jury. That said, from a legal standpoint, the trend in Illinois cases has been for the courts, with varying rationale, to give a
narrow construction to the offense. Trester at 960.
To read more about this case, you can read Bishop’s Blog.