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A guide to disorderly conduct charges in Florida

| Apr 6, 2018 | blog

Whether you are hanging out with friends on Spring Break or enjoying a few drinks at a bar, things may get a little out of hand. One minute you are having a good time, only to be put in handcuffs the next. How can this happen?

Florida has laws protecting the peace of the public. If you do anything that may disrupt other people, you could face a potential disorderly conduct conviction

Examples of disorderly conduct

The term “disorderly conduct” is somewhat vague, but the basic definition is any act that violates decency, peace or morality. Some behaviors that may fall under this definition include:

  • Arguing loudly in public
  • Public drunkenness
  • Fighting or brawling in public
  • Inciting a riot
  • Loitering
  • Using abusive or obscene language
  • Being unreasonably noisy
  • Obstructing traffic

Almost anything that breaches the peace of other people in a public place may be illegal under Florida law.

Criminal penalties

If the police arrest you for disorderly conduct, you will likely face a second-degree misdemeanor. The maximum punishments for this are a fine up to $500 and incarceration up to sixty days. However, if you are facing accusations of inciting a riot or partaking in a violent brawl, you may face a first-degree misdemeanor or even a third-degree felony. These will come with harsher fines and imprisonment. 

Defenses

Do not assume you will be successfully prosecuted for disorderly conduct. If you are facing charges, you may be able to defend against them with the help of a lawyer. Here are some examples of defenses to charges of disorderly conduct:

  • Freedom of speech: If you are facing charges for yelling something offensive, you may be able to claim it is your First Amendment right to say such things.
  • Self-defense: You may be able to drop charges of fighting or brawling by claiming you were acting out of self-defense.
  • Not public: The term “public place” is often disputed. You may be able to say the act did not occur in public.