Disturbing the Peace Law & Legal Definition


Disturbing the peace is a minor criminal offense that may be charged when someone makes excessive noise, especially in a residential area, such as by operation of any tool, equipment, vehicle, electronic device, set, instrument, television, phonograph, machine or other noise- or sound-producing device. Local laws vary, so they should be consulted for specific requirements in your area.

In some cases, an activity may only disturb a particular individiual, and the remedy would be a private nuisance claim in which injunctive relief and/or damages may be recovered.

The following is an example of a state statute dealing with disturbing the peace:

"Elements of Disturbing the Peace: It shall be unlawful for any person to:

  1. Make, continue, maintain or cause to be made or continued any excessive, unnecessary, unreasonable or unusually loud noise or any noise in such manner as to annoy, offend, disturb, injure or endanger the comfort, repose, health, peace or safety of any reasonable person of normal auditory sensitivity residing in the area.
  2. Use, operate or permit the use or operation of any electronic device, radio receiving set, television, musical instrument, phonograph or other machine or device for the producing or reproducing of sound in such manner as to disturb the peace, quiet and comfort of any reasonable person of normal auditory sensitivity inhabiting the area.
  3. Congregate because of, participate in or be in any party or gathering of people from which sound emanates of a sufficient volume so as to disturb the peace, quiet or repose of any reasonable person of normal auditory sensitivity residing in any residential area. No person shall visit or remain within any residential dwelling unit wherein such party or gathering is taking place except persons who have gone there for the sole purpose of abating said disturbance. A police officer may order all persons present in any group or gathering from the dwelling unit to immediately disperse in lieu of being charged under this Section."