Disorderly conduct is a common criminal charge, but the term is somewhat vague. The following article provides an overview of Florida disorderly conduct laws, the potential penalties, and typical defenses.
Overview of Florida Disorderly Conduct Laws
Florida uses the offense of disorderly conduct, also known as a "breach of the peace," to regulate conduct in public places. State laws prohibit public acts that corrupt public morals or violate standards of public decency, or affect the peace and quiet of other people. Common scenarios leading to disorderly conduct charges include public arguments, public intoxication, and non-violent encounters with police.
Florida disorderly conduct laws also allow the prosecution of individuals who take part in public fights or brawls. The state refers to a public fight or brawl as an "affray." While the state generally treats disorderly conduct as a second degree misdemeanor, an affray can result in a first degree misdemeanor prosecution. In addition, a public fight or brawl qualifying as a "riot" according to state laws can result in a felony prosecution, which is a more serious proceeding than a misdemeanor charge.
Florida Disorderly Conduct Laws: The Basics
|Common Examples of Disorderly Conduct
- Inciting a Riot
- Disturbance of the Peace
- Loitering in Certain Areas
- Fighting or Physical Altercations
- Obstructing Traffic
- Use of Extremely Obscene or Abusive Language
- Loud or Unreasonable Noise
|Defenses to Disorderly Conduct Charges
- First Amendment right to freedom of speech
- Act did not occur in a public place
|Penalties and Sentences
In general, Florida prosecutes a breach of the peace or disorderly conduct as a second degree misdemeanor. Under Florida law, the defendant may receive a sentence for a term of imprisonment lasting up to sixty days. The state may also impose a fine in an amount up to $500.
A public fight charged as a first degree misdemeanor or a riot charged as a third degree felony will likely result in a more severe penalty. A first degree misdemeanor can result in a term of imprisonment for up to one year.
In addition, disorderly conduct charges can result in substantial fines to the city or county that has jurisdiction.
Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
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Charged with Disorderly Conduct in Florida? Contact a Lawyer
Disorderly conduct is generally considered a minor offense, but the impact of a conviction can have major implications. If you've been charged with disorderly conduct in Florida, it's a good idea to contact a local criminal defense attorney to discuss your situation and learn how a legal professional can help plan your defense.