The Law on Breach of Peace in Hawaii and its Punishments
Breach of the peace is an act that disturbs public order and is also referred to as disorderly conduct. It involves acts that lead to a public disturbance. It is a very broad term and includes many acts and offenses. It can include rowdy behavior, fighting in public, noise, and disturbance in public that can lead to a disorder and a breach of the peaceful, normal situation. Generally, when this act leads to a problem for someone then it would be considered as an offense. Since this is a general term it is defined in different ways by different states.
Breach of Peace in Hawaii and Punishment
In the state of Hawaii, breach peace is covered in the Hawaii Revised Statutes in Title 37, 711.1101 under the title of Disorderly conduct. The law has the following provisions under this section.
As per the Hawaii statutes, when a person has an intention of causing alarm or inconvenience or create a risk and for this purpose engages in a fight, makes noise, uses abusive or offensively coarse language or behavior to provoke another, or creates a hazardous condition, or obstructs a person to beg; then the person is guilty of breach of peace. This is considered a petty misdemeanor under the law, if the intention is to cause serious harm, else it considered as a violation.
When treated as a petty misdemeanor, it would lead to imprisonment of not more than 30 days in prison and a fine of a maximum of $1,000. If treated as a violation, it does not constitute a crime.
The breach of peace law in Hawaii was extensive earlier. However, the latest statutes have reduced the scope of the law. Disorderly conduct, a breach of peace, is referred to in Hawaii is a very broad term and can have many connotations to it. The new statutes address some of the offenses under other headings and hence this particular section has been limited.
As per this law, there needs to be an intention to cause alarm or inconvenience. If there is no such intention, then this will not be a punishable offense under the statutes. The next point is that the alarm or inconvenience must be caused to the public by the act. If the public is not affected, then this will not be considered as an offense. If it is a private offense, then it is dealt with under other clauses of the law. One more aspect is that the police is not covered under this law and inconvenience to the police while they perform their duties will not be an offense under this statute.
The statute uses the term ‘offensively coarse’, which is interpreted as the language that is obscene in nature. It does not refer to politically offensive language or language that offends a religion. This is to ensure free speech as guaranteed by the constitution. An abusive language that provokes another person who may react violently is covered under this law.
A hazardous or offensive condition as outlined in this law would refer to a situation where someone uses a stink bomb or spreads garbage or filth in public. It can even be interpreted as switching off lights in a public space, such as an auditorium.
Creating noise is included in this statute, however, the noise must be unreasonable for it to constitute an offense. This ensures that commercial activities like playing music would not be considered noise.
Begging done in such a way as to inconvenience or obstruct is an offense, not otherwise.