Florida Statute 877.03 covers the law regarding disorderly conduct or breach of peace. This law is enforced for regulating the conduct of people in public places. Florida prohibits acts that violate decency or moral standards, or acts that disturb the peace of other people. The definition of disorderly conduct therefore includes doing acts that affect the peace and quiet of the public or persons, and acts that may outrage sense of decency or morals of the public. Many have argued that statutes such as these are vague claims- Broward Criminal Lawyer William Moore.
Such conduct can include arguments and swearing in public, intoxicated behavior in public, exchange of angry words with law enforcement authorities in public, and brawls and fights where both parties are indulging in the fighting. However, this law can be vague in certain instances. Disorderly Conduct Defense Attorney William explains; as the statute of disorderly conduct cannot encompass all types of behavior. Sometimes the disorderly conduct law can also be misused to conduct general arrests.
Penalties for Disorderly Conduct in Florida
Disorderly conduct offense carries a second degree misdemeanor charge, and in case of a conviction the offender can face a fine of up to $500, up to six months of probation, up to sixty days jail time, or the judge can also impose any combination of these penalties. However, Florida law also refers to public brawls and fights as “affray”, which can be treated as first degree misdemeanor offense, punishable by up to a year in jail. This charge can further escalate to felony prosecution if the brawl or fight qualifies to be a riot, and the penalties will be much more severe in such cases.
Usually speech alone cannot amount to a disorderly conduct charge, as defendants can argue that they have the freedom of speech as a First Amendment right. However, certain speech is not protected under the First Amendment, and uttering such speech, can lead to a disorderly conduct conviction. Such speech can include words that inflict injury, words that might hinder people from doing their activities or legal duties, words that incite other members of the public to commit disturbances or acts of violence, or shouting a false warning about some physical hazard that causes people to panic, which causes harm and physical injuries.
Merely cursing, shouting at the police or using offensive words may not constitute a disorderly conduct offense, but when such behavior causes safety concerns or interferes with the law and order situation of the place it will be an offense. – Broward Criminal Lawyer William Moore
In case of reported fighting, defendants can claim self-defense, stating their actions were for protecting themselves or other people accompanying them. The defense will have to establish that they did not initiate the fight in any way, and were fighting to defend themselves. –Broward Criminal Lawyer William Moore
Another defense used in disorderly conduct cases is trying to prove that the act did not happen at a public place. For instance, if people are arguing and shouting obscenities at each other in their own homes, it may not constitute disorderly conduct. However, if the shouting becomes too loud, and people in the neighboring areas are getting disturbed by the commotion and cannot conduct their work, it could lead to conviction of disorderly conduct. – Fort Lauderdale Defense Lawyer
In case of disorderly conduct charge based on public intoxication, the defendant can claim he or she was not behaving in a manner that would suggest intoxication. Defense can claim the loud behavior was due to some joy or enthusiasm. In addition, the defense of not being in a public place can apply here, if the defendant was indeed not in a public area. Secondly, if the police had ordered the defendant to come out into an area that was public, it can be cited as a defense. –Broward Criminal Lawyer William Moore