The Washington, DC City Counsel has enacted legislation known as the "Disorderly Conduct Amendment Act of 2010." This law took effect February 1, 2011, and makes the following conduct illegal: "unreasonably loud noise between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. that is likely to annoy or disturb one or more other persons in their residences." The maximum penalty for being convicted of this disorderly conduct charge is up to 90 days in jail and up to a $300 fine. This makes the offense a Washington, DC misdemeanor.
According to an interesting article by Josh Brown of the Washington Times, the DC Student Alliance has taken issue with the new law. The group consists of student leaders from 15 colleges and universities in the area. The group is calling the law too vague and disagrees with the severity of the penalty. There is no set standard to what "unreasonably loud" means and this has students worried.
As a Washington, DC criminal defense attorney who also handles school discipline cases, I cannot stress enough the importance of raising a good defense at a college or university hearing. It is common for criminal charges that stem from off-campus incidents to result in an academic termination hearing on campus. Many school policies allow for this. A school discipline hearing is a serious matter that is treated similar to a criminal hearing. The school will read the alleged facts, take statements from witnesses and those impacted by the alleged offense, and allow the student-defendant to make a statement. The proceedings are often recorded similar to a court case. The student has a right to have an attorney represent him or her at this hearing. There are many ways this can help.
A DC school discipline attorney can challenge the procedure the school is required to follow, cross-examine witnesses testifying against the student, and most importantly, protect the student from having his or her Fifth Amendment rights compromised. While the school hearing is not a criminal case, anything the student says may be admissible against them later in court.