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Disorderly Conduct

States throughout the country have limits on what people can do and say while in a public space. Although the limitations can seem minor, violating them could mean criminal charges. When a person commits an act that qualifies as disorderly conduct or breach of peace in Florida, he or she could face jail time and fines. Having a strong defense and a qualified criminal defense lawyer could make the difference in your future.

St. Petersburg Breach of Peace Attorney

If you are facing breach of peace charges, contact a St. Petersburg disorderly conduct defense attorney at Morris Law Firm, P.A.. Attorney Melinda Morris and her legal team can help you fight the charges and work to have them reduced or even dropped.  Your future is important, and Morris Law Firm, P.A. can make a difference.

Morris Law Firm, P.A. represents clients throughout the Tampa Bay area, including St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Pinellas County, Tampa, Hillsborough County and areas throughout other surrounding counties. Call (727) 388-4736 to schedule a free case evaluation today.

Information About Disorderly Conduct

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What is Considered Disorderly Conduct?

In Florida, laws against disorderly conduct are used to regulate personal conduct in public spaces, such as streets, parks, and other public venues. According to Florida Statute Annotated § 877.03, disorderly conduct acts are “of a nature to corrupt the public morals, or outrage the sense of public decency, or affect the peace and quiet of persons who may witness them.”

Some common examples of disorderly conduct include:

  • Brawling or fighting
  • Loitering
  • Loud or unreasonable noise
  • Obstructing traffic
  • Rioting
  • Disturbing the peace
  • Obscene or explicit language
  • Protesting
  • Disturbing an assembly, such as a government meeting
  • Intoxicated in public

Because the law is so broad, there are a plethora of acts that could be considered disorderly conduct. The law is subjective, and it often is up to a police officer to determine if a person is committing an offense that could fall under that category.

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Penalties for Disorderly Conduct in Florida

Under Florida law, disorderly conduct or breach of peace is a second-degree misdemeanor. This could mean up to 60 days in jail, a fine of up to $500 or both.  Additionally, a person could face up to six months of probation time.

For first-time offenders, the penalties could be decreased, depending on the circumstances of the offense. However, if the offense involved some sort of violent act or potential threats toward police, even a first-time offender could face jail time.

In addition, the court can impose whichever penalties it sees fit for the crime. For instance, if a person is charged with disorderly conduct for being intoxicated in public, a court may impose alcohol awareness classes or community service.

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Possible Defenses to Breach of Peace Charges

Because this law is so subjective, sometimes the interpretations can be challenged in court. This means there could be several defenses to a disorderly conduct charge, depending on the circumstances of the incident.

For example, if a person is arrested and charged with disorderly conduct for explicit language, he or she could challenge the charge by citing the First Amendment. Loud speech and profanity generally do not warrant disorderly conduct charges. However, some words known as “fighting words” are not protected.

Although police officers do not like to hear obscene language being directed at them, generally speaking, it is not a crime. Yelling at police officers or using obscene language also could be challenged, depending on the facts of the case. If the language was threatening, however, it may constitute an offense.

In some cases of fighting or brawling, self-defense could be a valid defense to the charge. The defense only would apply if the person did not start the fight or altercation and had to rely on aggressive acts to protect themselves from greater harm.

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Finding A Pinellas County Disorderly Conduct Defense Lawyer

Disorderly conduct laws in Florida can be technical and sometimes complex. If you are facing charges for breach of peace, it could be beneficial to enlist the help of a St. Petersburg disorderly conduct defense lawyer at Morris Law Firm, P.A.. Call Morris Law Firm, P.A. to schedule a free consultation to discuss how we can help you combat the charges.