Utah Lawyer for Criminal Code 76-9-1 Breaches of the Peace and Related Offenses

Salt Lake criminal defense lawyer

In Utah, charges for breaches of the peace and other related offenses constitute a broad category of crimes. There is no single charge for breaching or disturbing the peace. These offenses fall under Chapter Nine of the Utah Criminal Code entitled Offenses Against Public Order and Decency. Penalties and sentences for these crimes can very widely as some crimes are very serious, while others are only minor violations. The more serious charges may be felony offenses which carry harsh penalties, and the less serious charges may be only mere infractions or misdemeanors which carry more lenient penalties.

If you have been charged with a crime that constitutes some disruption of the peace or public order, it is crucial that you understand exactly what you have been charged with as there is no single penalty for breaching the peace or public order. To fully understand the charges against you, and to mount an effective and appropriate defense, you should contact an attorney to represent you. Call an experienced Utah criminal defense lawyer at Overson & Bugden at (801) 758-2287.

What is Breach of the Peace in Utah?

In Utah, a defendant charged with “breach of the peace” has done something which disturbs the peace, caused a public disruption, or created a public safety concern. Some crimes leading to such a charge are relatively slight, however, other crimes may be very serious and dangerous. A charge involving breach of the peace in Utah is not just a single charge, but instead is a broad category of charges which involve breaching or disturbing the peace. Under Chapter Nine of the Utah Criminal Code, there are eight different offenses which fall under the category of “breach of the peace.” These offenses are:

  • Riot
  • Disorderly conduct
  • Disrupting a meeting or procession
  • Failure to disperse
  • Making a false alarm
  • Disrupting the operation of a school
  • Unauthorized entry of a school bus
  • Disrupting a funeral or memorial service

If you have been charged with a crime that falls under this category, it is important to understand exactly what you have been charged with. Each crime involves some sort of breach of the peace or public disturbance, but they may carry different penalties under the Utah Criminal Code. Understanding the precise nature of the charge against you is critical to defending your case.

What are the Penalties for Breach of the Peace in Utah?

The penalties for breach of the peace or a related crime in Utah will differ depending on the exact charge against you. Some charges are merely small infractions that carry minimal punishments. Other charges are serious offenses that endanger the public safety and welfare, and they are punished much more harshly. For example, the charge of rioting is ordinarily a Class B misdemeanor. The charge is upgraded to a felony of the third degree when a person suffers bodily injury, there is substantial property damage, arson occurs, or the defendant had a dangerous weapon at the time the crime took place.


In the case of a minor infraction, this is the least serious offense a person can be charged with in the state of Utah and it carries no prison or jail term. Instead, a defendant charged with an infraction under the category of crimes which breach the peace or disturb public order will be made to pay a fine. The exact amount of that fine may depend on the circumstances unique to your case.


If the charge against you is a misdemeanor, the penalties become a bit more serious. Misdemeanor charges for breaching the peace may carry prison or jail terms, but terms are not lengthy as they do not exceed one year. A class A misdemeanor carries a jail term of no more than 364 days. A class B misdemeanor carries a term of no more than six months. Finally, a class C misdemeanor carries a term of no more than 90 days.


A felony charge is the most serious type of charge. Breach of the peace charges under this category will carry the most serious penalties. A breach of the peace crime may be a second or third degree felony. Felony sentences are not definite like sentences for misdemeanors or infractions. Instead, a defendant may be sentenced to an indeterminate term that spans a range of time they may spend in prison. A second degree felony carries an indeterminate term of at least one year in prison, but no more than fifteen years. A third degree felony carries a term of no more than five years.

Defending Against Breach of the Peace Charges in Utah

With the help of an attorney, you can defend yourself against charges of breaching the peace in a court of law. In Utah, because the exact nature of the charges involved in a crime involving breach of the peace or a disturbance of public order will vary from defendant to defendant, the most appropriate defense for such charges will also vary. Defending yourself against a rioting charge will be very different than defending against a charge of disorderly conduct or making a false alarm. An attorney will comb through every detail of your case to establish the best possible defense for you. Every defendant’s case will be unique, so a good defense will be tailored to the defendant’s unique needs.

Call an Experienced Utah Lawyer

In the State of Utah, breach of the peace charges could consist of any number of offenses. Some offenses are minimal, resulting in minor infraction charges that may carry only fines as a penalty. Other offenses are more serious and may be misdemeanors or felonies that carry prison sentences. Additionally, these prison sentences may range anywhere from a few months to many years. If you have been charged with a crime that involves breach of the peace or disturbing public order, contact a qualified Utah criminal defense attorney at Overson & Bugden by calling (801) 758-2287.