California's Disturbing the Peace - PC 415 & Jury Instr 2689


415. Any of the following persons shall be punished by imprisonment
in the county jail for a period of not more than 90 days, a fine of
not more than four hundred dollars ($400), or both such imprisonment
and fine:

(1) Any person who unlawfully fights in a public place or
challenges another person in a public place to fight.

(2) Any person who maliciously and willfully disturbs another
person by loud and unreasonable noise.

(3) Any person who uses offensive words in a public place which
are inherently likely to provoke an immediate violent reaction.

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New January 2006

2689. Disturbing the Peace: Loud and Unreasonable Noise
(Pen. Code, §§ 415(2), 415.5(a)(2))

The defendant is charged [in Count ] with disturbing the peace [in violation of ].

To prove that the defendant is guilty of this crime, the People must prove that:

[1.] The defendant maliciously and willfully disturbed another person by causing loud and unreasonable noise(;/.)


[2. The other person was in a building or on the grounds of at the time of the disturbance(;/.)]


(2/3). The defendant was not (a registered student of the school/ [or] a person engaged in lawful employee-related activity).]

Someone acts maliciously when he or she intentionally does a wrongful act or when he or she acts with the unlawful intent to annoy or injure someone else.

Someone commits an act willfully when he or she does it willingly or on purpose.

In order to disturb another person by causing loud and unreasonable noise, there must be either:

1. A clear and present danger of immediate violence;


2. The noise must be used for the purpose of disrupting lawful activities, rather than as a means to communicate.

The People do not have to prove that the defendant intended to provoke a violent response.

New January 2006

Instructional Duty

The court has a sua sponte duty to give this instruction defining the elements of the crime. Give this instruction if the defendant is charged with violating Penal Code section 415(2) or section 415.5(a)(2).

If the defendant is charged under Penal Code section 415.5(a)(2), give bracketed element 2 and insert the type of school from the statute. If there is sufficient evidence that the exemption in Penal Code section 415.5(f) applies, the court has a sua sponte duty to give bracketed element 3.

If the defendant is charged under Penal Code section 415(1), give only element 1. Do not give bracketed elements 2 and 3.


• Elements. Pen. Code, §§ 415(2), 415.5(a)(2).
• Willfully Defined. Pen. Code, § 7(1); People v. Lara (1996) 44 Cal.App.4th 102, 107 [51 Cal.Rptr.2d 402].
• Maliciously Defined. Pen. Code, § 7(4).
• Loud and Unreasonable Noise Defined. In re Brown (1973) 9 Cal.3d 612, 618–621 [108 Cal.Rptr. 465, 510 P.2d 1017].

Secondary Sources

2 Witkin & Epstein, California Criminal Law (3d ed. 2000) Crimes Against Public Peace and Welfare, §§ 2–4, 35.

6 Millman, Sevilla & Tarlow, California Criminal Defense Practice, Ch. 144, Crimes Against Order, § 144.22 (Matthew Bender).

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