Fairfax County Laws:
Offenses Against Public Peace and Safety
This page is a sub-page from our main Code of Fairfax County directory page. For a list of the Code areas covered by our Fairfax criminal lawyer, visit the Code of Fairfax County parent page (link above). For a broader overview of local (county and city code) laws as they relate to the Code of Virginia, visit our Local Law Directory page.
Please remember: laws change frequently. Do not rely on anything you read online, but instead, call or send a message to a local Fairfax criminal lawyer. There are subtle issues pertinent to the successful resolution of every case. The interesting legal issues which may arise when one is charged with a local code as opposed to a Virginia Code section may be an important topic for discussion.
Article 1 of the Code of Fairfax County covers:
Offenses Against Public Peace and Safety
Section 5-1-1. Drunkenness and profane swearing.
(a) If any person profanely curse or swear or be drunk in public he shall be deemed guilty of a Class 4 misdemeanor.
In any area in which there is located a court-approved detoxification center, a law enforcement officer may authorize the transportation, by police or otherwise, of public inebriates to such detoxification center in lieu of arrest; however, no person shall be involuntarily detained in such center.
(b) If any person shall be convicted for being drunk in public three (3) times within one (1) year, such person shall be guilty of a Class 3 misdemeanor. (1961 Code, § 17-2; 35-86-5.)
Section 5-1-2. Loitering; definitions; peace and good order.
(a) Definitions. For the purposes of this Section, the following words and phrases shall have the meanings respectively ascribed to them by this Section:
(1) Loiter shall mean to stand around or remain, or to park or remain parked in a motor vehicle at a public place or place open to the public and to engage in any conduct prohibited under this law. Loiter also means to collect, gather, congregate, or be a member of a group or a crowd of people, who are gathered together in any public place or place open to the public and to engage in any conduct prohibited under this law.
(2) Public place shall mean any public street, road, or highway, alley, land, sidewalk, crosswalk, or other public way, or any public resort, place of amusement, park, playground, public building or grounds appurtenant thereto, school buildings or school grounds, or public parking lot or any other publicly owned property.
(3) Place open to the public shall mean any place open to the public or any place to which the public is invited or may reasonably expect to be invited, and in, on, or around any privately owned place of business, private parking lot, or private institution, including places of worship, cemeteries, or any place of amusement and entertainment whether or not a charge of admission or entry thereto is made. It includes the elevator, lobby, halls, corridors and areas open to the public of any store, office, or apartment building.
(b) Prohibited conduct. It shall be unlawful for any person to loiter at, on or in a public place or place open to the public in the following manner:
(1) To interfere, impede or hinder the free passage of pedestrian or vehicular traffic; or
(2) To threaten or do physical harm to another member or members of the public; or
(3) To threaten or do physical harm to the property of another member or members of the public; or
(4) That by words, acts or other conduct it is clear that there is a present danger of a breach of the peace or disorderly conduct.
Any person who is loitering as defined in this Section shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and shall upon conviction thereof be punished in accordance with Section 1-1-12.
(c) Identification. Repealed by 24-83-5.
(d) Lawful assembly. Nothing herein shall be construed to prohibit orderly picketing or other lawful assembly.
(e) Penalties. Any person violating any provision of this Section shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction thereof shall be punished in accordance with Section 1-1-12
(5-4-60, §§ 1, 2; 11-27-68; 1961 Code, § 17-3; 36-76-5; 24-83-5.)
Section 5-1-3. Peeping or spying into structure occupied as dwelling
If any person shall enter upon the property of another, in the nighttime, and secretly or furtively peep through or attempt to peep, into, through or spy through a window, door or other aperture of any building, structure or other enclosure of any nature occupied or intended for occupancy as a dwelling, whether or not such building, structure or enclosure be permanently situated or transportable and whether or not such occupancy be permanent or temporary, such person shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.
(1961 Code, 17-6.)
Section 5-1-4. Disorderly conduct in public places; ejection of violators
(a) A person is guilty of disorderly conduct if, with the intent to cause public inconvenience, annoyance or alarm, or recklessly creating a risk thereof, he:
(1) In any street, highway, public building, or while in or on a public conveyance, or public place engages in conduct having a direct tendency to cause acts of violence by the person or persons at whom, individually, such conduct is directed; provided, however, such conduct shall not be deemed to include the utterance or display of any words or to include conduct otherwise made punishable under this Article; or
(2) Willfully, or being intoxicated, whether willfully or not, disrupts any meeting of the governing body of any political subdivision of this State or a division or agency thereof, or of any school, literary society or place of religious worship, if such disruption prevents or interferes with the orderly conduct of such meeting or has a direct tendency to cause acts of violence by the person or persons at whom, individually, such disruption is directed; provided, however, such conduct shall not be deemed to include the utterance or display of any words or to include conduct otherwise made punishable under this Article.
(3) A person violating any provision of this Section shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.
(b) The person in charge of any such building, place, conveyance or meeting may eject therefrom any person who violates any provision of this Section, with the aid, if necessary, of any persons who may be called upon for such purpose.
(1954 Code, Vol. 1, § 11-4; 16-75-17; 1961 Code, § 17-14; 35-76-5.)
Section 5-1-5. Obstructing passage of others
(a) Any person or persons who in any public place or on any private property open to the public unreasonably or unnecessarily obstructs the free passage of other persons to and from or within such public place or private property and who shall fail or refuse to cease such obstruction or move on when requested to do so by the owner or lessee or agent or employee of such owner or lessee or by a duly authorized law enforcement officer shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.
(b) Nothing in this Section shall be construed to prohibit lawful picketing.
Section 5-1-6. What constitutes a riot or unlawful assembly
(a) As used in this Chapter:
(1) Any unlawful use, by three (3) or more persons acting together, of force or violence which seriously jeopardizes the public safety, peace or public order is riot.
(2) Whenever three (3) or more persons assembled share the common intent to advance some lawful or unlawful purpose by the commission of an act or acts of unlawful force or violence likely to jeopardize seriously public safety, peace or order, and the assembly actually tends to inspire persons of ordinary courage with well-grounded fear of serious and immediate breaches of public safety, peace or order; then such assembly is an unlawful assembly.
Section 5-1-7. Participating in riot.
Every person convicted of participating in any riot shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor. (1976; 31-12-5.)
Section 5-1-8. Participating in unlawful assembly.
Every person who participates in any unlawful assembly shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.
Section 5-1-9. Remaining at place of riot or unlawful assembly after warning to disperse.
Every person, except public officers and persons assisting them, remaining present at the place of any riot or unlawful assembly after having been lawfully warned to disperse, shall be guilty of a Class 3 misdemeanor.
Section 5-1-10. Conspiracy; incitement to riot.
Any person who conspires with others to cause or produce a riot, or directs, incites, or solicits other persons who participate in a riot to acts of force or violence, shall be guilty of a Class 5 felony and punished in accordance with § 18.2-10, Va. Code Ann.
Section 5-1-11. Resisting or obstructing execution of legal process.
Every person acting jointly or in combination with any other person to resist or obstruct the execution of any legal process shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.
Section 5-1-12. Dispersal of unlawful or riotous assemblies and immunity.
When any number of persons, whether armed or not, are unlawfully or riotously assembled, the sheriff of the county and his deputies, the police officials of the county, city or town, and any assigned militia, or any of them, shall go among the persons assembled or as near to them as safety will permit and command them in the name of the State immediately to disperse. If upon such command the persons unlawfully assembled do not disperse immediately, such sheriff, officer or militia may use such force as is reasonably necessary to disperse them and to arrest those who fail or refuse to disperse. To accomplish this end, the sheriff or other law enforcement officer may request and use the assistance and services of private citizens. Every endeavor shall be used, both by such sheriff or other officers and by the officer commanding any other force, which can be made consistently with the preservation of life, to induce or force those unlawfully assembled to disperse before an attack is made upon those unlawfully assembled by which their lives may be endangered. No liability, criminal or civil, shall be imposed upon any person authorized to disperse or assist in dispersing a riot or unlawful assembly for any action of such person which was taken after those rioting or unlawfully assembled had been commanded to disperse, and which action was reasonably necessary under all the circumstances to disperse such riot or unlawful assembly or to arrest those who failed or refused to disperse.
Section 5-1-13. Commission of certain offenses in county, city or town declared by Governor to be in state of riot or insurrection.
Any person, who after the publication of a proclamation by the Governor of Virginia, or who after lawful notice to disperse and retire, resists or aids in resisting the execution of process in county, city or town declared to be in a state of riot or insurrection, or who aids or attempts the rescue or escape of another from lawful custody or confinement, or who resists or aids in resisting a force ordered out by the Governor or any sheriff or other officer to quell or suppress an insurrection or riot, shall be guilty of a Class 5 felony and punished in accordance with Code of Virginia, Section 18.2-10.
Section 5-1-14. Injury to property or persons by persons unlawfully or riotously assembled.16 
If any person or persons, unlawfully or riotously assembled, pull down, injure, or destroy, or begin to pull down, injure or destroy any dwelling house or other building, or assist therein, or perpetrate any premediated injury on the person of another, he shall be guilty of a Class 6 felony and punished in accordance with Code of Virginia, Section 18.2-10.
Section 5-1-15. Disturbing the peace.
If any person shall, in the presence or hearing of another, curse or abuse such other person, or use any violent abusive language to such person concerning himself or any of his relations, or otherwise use such language, under circumstances reasonably calculated to provoke a breach of the peace, he shall be guilty of a Class 3 misdemeanor. (7-11-56; 1961 Code, § 17-16; 20-01-5)
Section 5-1-16. Minors in public poolrooms or billiard rooms; penalty.
(a) It shall be unlawful for any person under eighteen (18) years of age to frequent, play in or loiter in any public poolroom or billiard room in the County wherein alcoholic beverages are sold.
(b) It shall be unlawful for the proprietor of any public poolroom or billiard room or his agent to permit any such minor to frequent, play in or loiter in any public poolroom or billiard room wherein alcoholic beverages are sold.
(c) Any such minor or any such proprietor or agent convicted of violating the provisions of this Section shall be deemed guilty of a Class 3 misdemeanor.
(9-10-69; 1961 Code, § 17-23.)
Section 5-1-17. Minors; public poolroom defined.
For the purpose of this Chapter, a public poolroom shall mean an place open to the general public wherein a fee is charged or received in any manner, either directly or indirectly, for the privilege of engaging in the game of pool or billiards. The term “public poolroom” as used herein shall not be construed to include an establishment in which not more than two (2) pool tables are operated on a fee basis.
(9-10-69; 1961 Code, § 17-24.)
Section 5-1-18. False report of crime
It shall be unlawful for any person knowingly to give a false report as to the commission of any crime to any law enforcement official with intent to mislead. Violation of the provisions of this Section shall be punishable in a Class 1 misdemeanor.
Section 5-1-19. Calling or summoning ambulance or fire-fighting apparatus without cause.
Any person who, without just cause therefor, calls or summons, by telephone or otherwise, any ambulance, or fire-fighting apparatus, shall be deemed guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.
Section 5-1-20. Obstructing justice by threats or force.
If any person, by threats, or force, attempts to intimidate or impede a judge, justice, juror, witness, or an officer of a court, or any law enforcement officer, in the discharge of his duty, or to obstruct or impede the administration of justice in any court, he shall be deemed guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.
Section 5-1-21. Failure to assist law enforcement officers.
If any person on being required by any sheriff or other officer refuses or neglects to assist him:(1) in the execution of his office in a criminal case, (2) in the preservation of the peace, (3) in the apprehending or securing of any person for a breach of the peace, or (4) in any case of escape or rescue, he shall be guilty of a Class 2 misdemeanor.
Section 5-1-22. Illegal use of badges, uniforms and police signals.
No person other than a member of the law enforcement agency or one authorized by the agency shall use those badges and uniforms prescribed for the use of the agency or use or cause to be used on the public roads or highways of this County, any motor vehicle bearing markings with the word “police” shown thereon. Any violation of this Section shall be a Class 1 misdemeanor.
Section 5-1-25. Possession of open alcoholic beverage containers prohibited.
It shall be unlawful for any person to possess an open alcoholic beverage container while in a public park, playground, or on a public street. Violations of this Section shall be punished as a Class 4 misdemeanor.
Section 5-1-26. Drinking or possession of alcoholic beverages in or on public school grounds.
If any person, in or upon the grounds of any free public elementary or secondary school, during school hours or school student activities, shall take a drink of any alcoholic beverage or have in his possession any alcoholic beverage, he shall be guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by confinement in jail for not more than six (6) months and a fine of not more than Five Hundred Dollars ($500.00), either or both.
Section 5-1-27. Drinking alcoholic beverages or tendering to another in public place; penalty.
(a) If any person takes a drink of alcoholic beverages or tenders a drink thereof to another, whether accepted or not, at or in any public place (as defined in Code of Virginia Section 4-2), he shall be guilty of a Class 4 misdemeanor.
(b) This Section shall not prevent any person from drinking alcoholic beverages or offering a drink thereof to another in the dining room or other designated room as defined in Code of Virginia Section 4-25, of a hotel, restaurant, club or boat, or in a dining car, club car, or buffet car of any train, or wine, wine coolers, or similar products that qualify as beverages as defined in Code of Virginia Section 4-99, and beer only within all seating areas, concourses, walkways, concession areas, as well as other additional locations designated by the Board, in coliseums, stadia, or similar facilities, during the performance of a professional sporting exhibition or event, provided such alcoholic beverages and beverages are served in a paper, plastic, or similar disposable container, or in any other establishment, provided such hotel, restaurant, club, boat, dining car, club car, buffet car, coliseum, stadium or similar facility or other establishment, or the person who operates the same, including a concessionaire, is licensed to sell at retail for consumption in such dining room, room, car, seating areas, concourses, walkways, concession areas, as well as other additional locations designated by the Board, in such coliseum, stadium or similar facility or establishment, such alcoholic beverages, and the alcoholic beverages drunk or offered were purchased therein.
the portions of the Code of Fairfax County our Fairfax criminal lawyer has decided to educate the public on, as well as their respective pages, are as follows:
- Offenses Against Public Morals—Obscenity
- Offenses Relating to Property & Unlicensed Mobile Businesses
- Excessive Sound Generation in Residential Areas and Dwellings
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