Difference between DB error and empty check

Hi,

If I am using the below code find out the maximum display order and for some reason the DB execution fails, what is the value it returns? Is it false, If false then for empty also the result will be false. How to differentiate between them?

$disp_order = Devices::maximum(array
    ("column" => "disp_order")
);


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If I am using the below code find out the maximum display order and for some reason the DB execution fails

Is any message being generated?