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Hinman Law Blog

Community Order Crimes

Community Order crimes, sometimes referred to as crimes against public peace, run the gamut from misdemeanors like Disorderly Conduct to crimes that carry long state prison sentences, such as Perjury. As a former prosecutor, Attorney Hinman has extensive experience handling community order crimes and has an intimate understanding of how these types of cases are charged and prosecuted. With many community order crimes, an experienced attorney can work with the prosecution to come to an alternative resolution that may involve community service or restitution rather than jail time. Criminal Attorney Hinman will work hard to negotiate with the District Attorney’s Office and with law enforcement on your behalf to achieve a favorable outcome. Some of the more common community order crimes are described below.

Disorderly Conduct

In order to be convicted of this crime, the prosecution must prove the following:

  1. That you had as a purpose to cause public inconvenience, annoyance, or alarm, or recklessly created a risk thereof;
  2. That you engaged in fighting or threatening or in violent or tumultuous behavior; or
  3. That you created a hazardous or physically offensive condition by any act.

The state must prove that you were aware of the likely consequences of your behavior and chose to ignore them. The maximum penalty for this offense is 6 months in jail.

Willful and Malicious Destruction of Property

Willful and Malicious Destruction of Property is defined in Massachusetts as willfully or maliciously destroying or injuring the personal property, house or building of another. Willful conduct is defined as conduct that is intentional and deliberate. Malicious conduct is defined as conduct motivated by cruelty, hostility, or revenge. The punishment for conviction under this law is up to 10 years in prison or 2.5 years in jail and/or a fine of $3000 or 3 times the value of the property that was destroyed (whichever amount is higher).

Wanton Destruction of Property

Wanton Destruction of Property is the destruction or injury of personal property, house, or building of another, where the defendant’s actions were wanton. Wanton, for purposes of this statute, is intentional and without regard to the likelihood that substantial harm could result. The penalty is up to 2.5 years in jail and/or a $1500 fine or 3 times the value of the property. If the value of the property does not exceed $250, the penalty is up to 2.5 months in jail and/or a fine of 3 times the amount of damage caused to the property.

Disturbing the Peace

Disturbing the Peace is defined as intentionally engaging in unreasonably disruptive conduct, and as a result, annoying or disturbing at least one person. The state must prove that the actions were voluntary, unnecessary, and contrary to normal standards of conduct. The maximum penalty for this offense is 6 months in jail. The elements of this crime are very subjective: what may be annoying to one person is not necessarily annoying to another. Therefore, it is important to have a criminal attorney work with the prosecutor to come to a favorable resolution on your behalf that does not involve jail time.

Resisting Arrest

Resisting arrest is defined in Massachusetts as knowingly preventing or attempting to prevent a police officer from effecting an arrest by using or threatening to use physical force or violence, or using any other means which creates a substantial risk of bodily injury to the officer or another person. The fact that you did not believe that the arrest was justified or lawful is not a defense to this crime. The maximum penalty for this offense is 2.5 years in jail and/or a fine of $500.

Witness Intimidation

The purpose of this statute is to protect the integrity of the criminal justice process in Massachusetts, and as such, this crime is taken very seriously. Witness Intimidation is defined by the following elements:

  1. The alleged victim was a witness in a criminal trial or other criminal proceeding, or furnishing information to a criminal investigator regarding the violation of a criminal statute;
  2. The defendant willfully endeavored to influence, impede, obstruct, delay, or otherwise interfere with the alleged victim;
  3. That the defendant did so by means of a gift, offer, express or implied promise, misrepresentation, intimidation, force or express or implied threats of force;
  4. The defendant did so with the specific intent to influence the alleged victim as a witness.

The intimidation does not need to be successful to be convicted under this law— it is enough that you attempted to influence a witness. The penalty for this crime is up to 2.5 years in jail or 10 years in state prison, and/or up to a $5000 fine.


Perjury is testifying or making a false statement while under oath. The penalty varies, based on the circumstances. If you commit perjury during a trial for a capital crime, the maximum penalty is life in prison. In any other case, the penalty is up to 20 years in prison, or 2.5 years in jail if the case is prosecuted in district court. The laws governing Perjury are extremely complex, and if you are being charged under this statute, it is essential to hire an experienced criminal attorney. The penalties can be severe, and as a witness in any serious criminal matter, having an attorney to consult with is a good idea even if you have not been charged with a crime.

If you have been charged with a community order crime anywhere in Norfolk, Suffolk, or Middlesex County, contact Attorney Hinman for immediate assistance at 617-283-4480, or by using the form to the left.