Can You Go to Jail for Playing Loud Music?
By Tedia Gamino
If you’re like most people, you enjoy good music from time to time. But when your neighbor blasts their favorite tunes while you’re trying to sleep, study, or enjoy some quiet time, it’s beyond annoying—it’s disruptive. When an individual disrupts you and your neighbors with loud noise and commotion over an extended period, they are in breach of peace—or disturbing the peace, in Wisconsin it is called “disorderly conduct.” While the laws that define disturbing the peace may vary from state to state, disturbing the peace may be a criminal offense or municipal ticket in Wisconsin.
Laws that punish those who disturb the peace are meant to discourage offensive acts that could annoy, harm, or threaten others.
Actions Considered to Be Disturbing the Peace
Acts of disturbing the peace include:
- Playing loud music at night, especially if you live in an apartment building or have neighbors that live close by.
- Fighting someone in public (except for self-defense), or challenging someone to a fight in a public space.
- Yelling obscenities in a public setting, or using offensive language or fighting words.
- Public intoxication
- Knocking and banging on objects.
- Resisting a lawful arrest.
- Allowing excessive dog barking.
Actions That Aren’t Considered to Be Disturbing the Peace
- Making a rude gesture to someone.
- Embarrassing another person.
- Annoying someone.
- Accidentally bumping into someone.
What Can You Do as a Victim of Someone Who Disturbs the Peace?
If you’re dealing with a neighbor who’s disturbing the peace by frequently playing loud music at inappropriate times or constantly making loud noises, and you may be able to resolve the issue amicably, you might consider having a conversation with them. If the situation escalates, however, remove yourself right away.
What Is the Punishment for Disturbing the Peace?
Disturbing the peace in Wisconsin is a Class B misdemeanor, so if you’re convicted you could face jail time—up to 90 days, and/or up to a fine of $1,000. An attorney may be able to argue for a more favorable sentence, especially if you’re a first-time offender, so it’s critical that you have one.
Do You Need to Talk to an Attorney About a Disturbing the Peace Charge?
If you’ve been charged with disturbing the peace, call our office at 414-383-6700 to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced lawyers who can provide the guidance you need.
By Attorney Tedia Gamino