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Frequently Asked Questions
Disturbing the Peace

  • What is Disturbing the Peace?

Penal Code 415 describes Disturbing the Peace in three ways.  The first way is to fight or challenge someone to fight in a public place.  The second is to maliciously and willfully disturbs another person by loud and unreasonable noise.  The last, and most confusing one, is to use offensive words in a public place which are inherently likely to provoke an immediate violent reaction.  A person's freedom of speech has to be weighed before using the last way to disturbed one's peace.

  • Who's peace can be disturbed?

By Law, a peace officer's peace cannot be disturbed.  This means that if someone calls the police for a loud stereo complaint and the officer hears the music, that officer cannot take action if the person refuses to turn down the music.  This would require the person, who's peace is being disturbed, to sign a citizen's arrest and the officer can take action based on the citizen's arrest.

  • Are there certain hours that my peace can be disturbed?

    There are no certain hour limitations on disturbing the peace.  For instance, if someone has a stereo up so loud that it can be heard from inside your residence and has been playing all day, it may be considered loud and unreasonable.  However, construction that is being performed during legal hours, as allowed by municipal code, may be loud but it is not unreasonable.


  • What should I do if my peace is being disturbed by another?

If you believe your peace is being disturbed by another and you believe it is both loud and unreasonable, call the police department at (209) 239-8401.  We can send out an officer to evaluate the situation.  Most noise complaints can be resolved by coming out and simply asking the person to keep the noise down.  If the noise continues, a citizen's arrest may be necessary to handle the situation.  In this case, call the police department and an officer will come out to have you sign the necessary forms.  The officer will then take the necessary action.


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