COPIED RIGHT

Unnecessary Detail?

Eugene Volokh | 7.27.2021 8:01 AM

From the Minnesota disorderly conduct statute:

Whoever does any of the following in a public or private place, including on a school bus, knowing, or having reasonable grounds to know that it will, or will tend to, alarm, anger or disturb others or provoke an assault or breach of the peace, is guilty of disorderly conduct, which is a misdemeanor:

(1) engages in brawling or fighting; or

(2) disturbs an assembly or meeting, not unlawful in its character; or

(3) engages in offensive, obscene, abusive, boisterous, or noisy conduct or in offensive, obscene, or abusive language tending reasonably to arouse alarm, anger, or resentment in others.

A person does not violate this section if the person’s disorderly conduct was caused by an epileptic seizure.

I would think that the last sentence wouldn’t really be necessary, at least to the extent it’s aimed at capturing involuntary conduct: It’s a general principle of criminal law that involuntary conduct (e.g., sleepwalking and actions during a seizure) isn’t covered by the law, under the so-called actus reus doctrine. I suppose it might be good to make this extra clear, though perhaps there’s some risk that courts might infer that Minnesota statutes that lack such a provision implicitly reject the actus reus doctrine. But in any event, I’ve never seen something like this in a statute, so I thought I’d note it.

(It might be a crime to do something knowing that you’re at risk of involuntary conduct that causes injury—for instance,  it may be reckless driving to drive when you know you’re subject to extremely frequent seizures, or for that matter when you know you’re very likely to fall asleep or otherwise lose consciousness—but that doesn’t seem to apply here.)

%d bloggers like this: