My child was accused of disorderly conduct at school. Is that a crime?

Disorderly Conduct StampUntil recently, students could be charged with a crime for committing disorderly conduct at school, but the law changed in 2020.

Now, Virginia’s law on Disorderly Conduct in Public Places (Virginia Code §18.2-415(D)) states, “The provisions of this section shall not apply to any elementary or secondary school student if the disorderly conduct occurred on the property of any elementary or secondary school, on a school bus as defined in § 46.2-100, or at any activity conducted or sponsored by any elementary or secondary school.”

What Is Disorderly Conduct?

Generally, disorderly conduct occurs if a person acts with intent to cause public inconvenience, annoyance, or alarm or recklessly creates a risk of public inconvenience, annoyance, or alarm in certain places or situations described in Virginia Code Section 18.2-415.

Disorderly conduct is a class 1 misdemeanor punishable by up to 12 months in jail, a fine of up to $2,500, or both a fine and jail time.

Why Did the Law Change?

Before the law changed, some students faced disorderly conduct charges for things such as playing music too loudly on the school bus, kicking a trash can, or cutting the line in the school cafeteria. Children of color and children with disabilities faced disorderly conduct charges more frequently than their white and non-disabled peers.

Now, students accused of disorderly conduct at school will not face the stress of a criminal prosecution or the potentially life-changing effects of a criminal conviction.

Two Things to Keep in Mind If Your Child Gets in Trouble at School

Your child may not be charged with disorderly conduct if your child is an elementary, middle, or high school student and the alleged conduct occurred on the property of an elementary or secondary school, a school bus, or at a school activity.

However, your child may still face:

  • Other criminal charges if the conduct violates another Virginia law
     
  • Serious school consequences that could impact your child’s future

If your child is charged with a crime, please contact our Fairfax criminal defense lawyers as soon as possible to set up an initial consultation. Let’s discuss how we can work together to defend your child and protect your child’s future.