Charges can be dropped from underage drinking to disorderly conduct. Out of legal curiosity...

Asked 6 months ago - New Kensington, PA

Just been informed that it's common practice of our magistrate to reduce charges to disorderly conduct instead of underage drinking. If charges are reduced, however, can I fight disorderly conduct on the grounds that it appears that our actions do not fall under "disorderly conduct" as defined by Title 18 Section 5503 of PA law (background info, we were caught on private property outside, not behaving tumultuously, etc., cops called to location for unrelated reason)? If I fought those charges, would I still be prosecuted for underage drinking? This is by no means my current legal strategy, I am just asking out of curiosity.

Attorney answers (3)

  1. William A. Jones Jr.


    Contributor Level 20


    Lawyer agrees

    Answered . Absolutely not. The reduction to a disorderly conduct is a bargain. In return for the reduction you accept responsibility to a different summary offense that may not technically fit the underlying facts and circumstances. Be aware that a Disorderly Conduct summary will not be eligible for expungement for five years; the Underage would be after you turn 21. In addition there is yet another option that would result in no conviction but you would have your license suspended for 90 days. You might want to talk with a qualified criminal defense attorney to help you with determine the best strategy. Talking privately with a knowledgeable lawyer beats the Internet every day. Good luck.

  2. Michael Lawrence Doyle


    Contributor Level 20

    Answered . The condition for dropping the underage drinking is to plead guilty to the disorderly conduct. You can't have it both ways. The reason this is a bargain is that the underage drinking will come with a suspension of your driver's license.

    This is not intended as individual legal advice and there is no attorney client relationship established by this... more
  3. Steven Fisher Fairlie


    Contributor Level 13

    Answered . I believe that legally, you can plead guilty to Disorderly Conduct and then appeal to the Court of Common Pleas and argue that the elements of Disorderly Conduct were not made out. I've seen this done successfully. I'll warn you though that Judges will hate this approach and may find you guilty just because they despise this type of defense. They might also permit the DA to amend the charges to Underage Drinking and proceed on those charges, though I believe that would be an improper ruling. More importantly, you should watch the video at the link below, which addresses the huge risk you may be facing if you opt to plead guilty to Disorderly Conduct.

    Please note that I am only licensed in Pennsylvania. Therefore, if your case involves another jurisdiction, you... more

Related Topics

Criminal charges

Criminal charges are formal accusations in court that someone has committed a crime. Criminal charges have many classifications and degrees of severity.

Criminal charges for disorderly conduct

Disorderly conduct, usually a misdemeanor charge, means disrupting the peace or public space through threatening, disruptive, lewd, or drunken behavior.

Can't find what you're looking for? Ask a Lawyer

Get free answers from experienced attorneys.


Ask now

21,025 answers this week

2,686 attorneys answering

Ask a Lawyer

Get answers from top-rated lawyers.

  • It's FREE
  • It's easy
  • It's anonymous

21,025 answers this week

2,686 attorneys answering