Disorderly Conduct Lawyers in Naples, Florida
Defend Your Interests with Help from Musca Law
Have you been arrested for committing an act of disorderly conduct? Initially, if you are in this predicament, you may be confused as to why you are potentially facing criminal charges of this nature. By consulting an experienced criminal defense attorney, however, you can easily uncover resources that will help you understand these charges and determine the best legal strategy available to you.
If you have been charged with disorderly conduct and need assistance for representing your rights in a courtroom, look no further than Musca Law. For more information about our case types, please contact our Naples office at (239) 793-5297 today.
Committing a Disorderly Conduct Crime in Florida
Simply put, an act of disorderly conduct (defined in Florida Statute Title XLVI Chapter 877.03) occurs when a person behaves in a manner that breaches the peace (e.g. disrupts the happiness of people around him/her). This quality, in turn, demonstrates the difficulty of pinpointing a crime of this nature. Determining if a person is exercising his/her freedom of speech or disrupting the public can be incredibly tricky. In the end, disorderly conduct can be an open playing field, resulting in charges that aren’t necessarily supported by a substantial collection of evidence presented to a court.
Here are some examples of acts that may be categorized as disorderly conduct offenses:
- Acts that corrupt the morality of the public
- Acts that anger the public or upset a sense of decency
- Acts that impact witnesses’ peace and quiet
- Brawls, fights, attacks in public
- Public intoxication
Under these guidelines, the act of asking a police officer a question or speaking your mind may turn into a circumstance where you are facing criminal charges because an officer wants to demonstrate authority over you. In this event, you could be charged with disorderly conduct against law enforcement.
Public Intoxication as an Act of Disorderly Conduct in the State of Florida
Under Florida State Law, acts of public intoxication (disorderly intoxication) are categorized as a form of disorderly conduct, even if this act has taken place in an area that has been reserved for the consumption of alcoholic drinks. In these locations, culprits can still face charges for disrupting public peace. (For example, while you are permitted to purchase alcohol at sporting events, rowdy behavior triggered by intoxication could result in criminal charges.)
Florida Statute Title XLVI Chapter 856.11 dictates that no person may (at any given time) become intoxicated and endanger the lives of one or more people in a public setting. Anyone who commits this offense will be charged with a 2nd-degree misdemeanor, which is punishable by a 60-day prison sentence and a fine that does not exceed $500.
Facts about Acts of Verbal Abuse and Battery of Members of Florida Law Enforcement
As described earlier, resisting an arrest routinely conducted by a police officer (or another member of law enforcement) and additional acts involving verbal or physical abuse may also be categorized as a form of disorderly conduct. Florida Statute Title XLVI Chapter 784.07(b) dictates that any person who verbally or physically abuses or assaults an officer of the law will be charged with a 1st-degree misdemeanor, which is punishable by a 1-year prison sentence and a fine that does not exceed $1,000.
Defining “law enforcement officers”: As outlined in Chapter 784.07, the following individuals constitute members of law enforcement in the State of Florida:
- Emergency medical care providers are people who operate an ambulance or provide medical care (for example, a nurse or an EMT). Depending on variable circumstances, doctors, hospital employees, agents, or volunteers may also fall into this category.
- Firefighters are responsible for extinguishing fires and rescuing people from these emergency situations.
- Law enforcement officers are a variety of people who work in different departments including law enforcement, corrections, correctional probation, and auxiliary corrections.
- Public transit employees are authorized to operate buses or trains, collectors of revenue, members of security, and people who are trained to maintain equipment. This category may also include transit agents.
Charges for Disorderly Conduct in the State of Florida
Florida Statute title XLVI Chapter 877.03 clearly dictates that any person who breaches the peace (commits an act of disorderly conduct) and subsequently corrupts public morals, outrages the public, or completely disrupts the peace of witnesses (including brawls and fights) will be charged with a 2nd-degree misdemeanor, which is punishable by a 60-day prison sentence and a fine that does not exceed $500.
Meanwhile, Chapter 856.011 dictates that any person who is clearly intoxicated and subsequently corrupts the morals of the public by disrupting the peace of and or participating in a brawl triggered by said intoxication will also be charged with a 2nd-degree misdemeanor (see the aforementioned charges).
Final Verdicts for a Disorderly Conduct Case in Court
In reference to Florida Statute Title XLVI Chapter 877.03 and instructions listed for members of a Criminal Jury outlined in Case 29.5, members of the court must prove (without any shred of doubt) that the defendant:
- Has committed an act that demonstrates a disregard for the public’s morals
- Outraged or insulted the decency of the public
- Disrupted the peace and quiet of the people who witnessed the act or acts
- Took part in a brawl or a fight of any sort
Under these circumstances, disorderly conduct also refers to a breach of the peace, in any way.
Reaching a Verdict for a Disorderly Conduct Case (Disorderly Intoxication)
In keeping with Florida Statute title XLVI Chapter 856.011 and the instructions laid out in Criminal Jury Case 29.1, members of the court must prove (without any shred of doubt) that the defendant:
- Had been intoxicated when the incident took place
- Put another person’s life at risk or endangered a person’s property
- Had been intoxicated and/or consuming alcohol in a public setting
- Disrupted the peace and quiet of the witnesses
In accordance with Case 29.1, a defendant cannot use his/her admission of intoxication as a means of defense in a courtroom, but members of the court will regard this admission as a valuable piece of evidence. No additional offenses have been categorized under the same section as public intoxication.
Describing the Terms in Jury Case 29.1 for Disorderly Intoxication
On that note, here is a closer look at the terminology outlined in Case 29.1 for a case of disorderly intoxication (on similar grounds of disorderly conduct):
- Intoxication: a situation where the defendant has drank so much alcohol that he/she has completely lost control over his/her faculties
- “Public place” refers to a location which the public has the right to visit.
Forming a Viable Defense Against Charges of Disorderly Conduct in Court
The defendant may assert the notion that he/she had not started a fight with the individual(s) associated with this act of disorderly conduct, and was instead acting out of self-defense. Although this assertion may be recognized as a strong piece of evidence, you must keep in mind that this defense might not hold any value if the culprit had (in fact) instigated the fight. If the defendant can prove (without any doubt) that he/she attacked an assailant out of self-defense, he/she will ultimately not be charged with disorderly conduct.
For references about acts of self-defense categorized as disorderly conduct, see the following cases:
- Defendant triggers fight: D.M.L. v. State, 773 So.2d 1216, 1217 (Fla. 3d DCA 2000)
Wielding the Right of Free Speech in a Disorderly Conduct Case
Criminal Jury Case 29.5 indicates that the statute covering disorderly conduct may raise concerns in a criminal court. If the defendant declares that the alleged act was an exercise of free speech (protected by the state and national constitutions), the court will take special action to ensure this person is not convicted. Please review Chandler v. State, 744 So. 2d 1058 (Florida 4th DCA, 1999) for more details about this issue.
In a case revolving around verbal abuse, though, the situation can become tricky. The First Amendment of the U.S Constitution and Article I (Section 4) of the Florida State Constitution dictates that residents have the right to exercise free speech:
- No existing laws will prevent people from exercising the liberty of free speech
- An exercise of free speech can be used as viable evidence in court
- Defendants will not face charges if the court determines an exercise of free speech
However, consider that U.S. citizens, including Floridians, must be prepared to face the consequences of exercising free speech, regardless of this law. Unless the situation involves physical harm, people cannot face charges for disorderly conduct if they are simply swearing in public or yelling at someone. Merely witnessing an act does not constitute grounds for an arrest.
For further analysis regarding disruption of peace triggered by cursing and delinquent behavior, take a look at the following cases:
- C.P. vs. State 644 So. 2d 600 (Florida 2nd DCA, 1994)
- K.Y.E vs. State 557 So.2d 956 (Florida 1st DCA, 1990)
- K.S. vs. State 697 So. 2d 1275 (Florida 3rd DCA, 1997)
Reviewing Penalties for Disorderly Conduct
Florida Statute Title XLVI 775.083, dictates that any individual who is found guilty of committing a 2nd-degree misdemeanor may potentially pay a fine that is increased to two-times the pecuniary gains awarded to the victims. The same charges are relevant for men and women who have been arrested for public intoxication (a form of disorderly conduct).
Individuals who are charged with abusing law enforcement will potentially pay a fine of $10,000.
Important Resources for Disorderly Conduct Cases in the State of Florida
Florida Statutes, Chapter XLVI, § 877.03 – Review the full statute for disorderly conduct in Florida.
Florida Statutes, Chapter XLVI, §856.011 – Review the details of the full statute for disorderly intoxication (public intoxication) in the State of Florida.
Florida Statutes, Chapter XLVI, §775.083 – Review the fines set by the State of Florida for misdemeanors and additional charges. Pay close attention to the section highlighting charges for 2nd-degree misdemeanors.
Florida Statutes, Chapter XLVI, §784.07 – Review charges for the verbal abuse or battery of a law enforcement officer on the grounds of disorderly conduct.
Florida Statutes, Chapter XLVI, §775.082 – Here is the full list of general penalties and steps for the registration of criminals arrested in the state of Florida. As with the previous entry, pay close attention to the section concerning punishment for 2nd-degree misdemeanors.
Cases 29.1 and 29.5 for Criminal Jury – Take a closer look at this link to read over the specifications set out for juries covering cases of disorderly conduct and disorderly intoxication. Be sure to click on the available links for Cases 29.1 and 29.5 to review the responsibilities of the jury members and any grounds for defending your situation (including your constitutional right of free speech). Recall the differences between disorderly conduct and intoxication crimes.
Constitution of the State of Florida – For a detailed look at your rights as a resident of the state of Florida and (ultimately) your right to defend a situation involving disorderly conduct or intoxication, review the official constitution of the State of Florida. Freedom of speech will serve as a valid defense.
Make the Call to Get Representation from Musca!
If you or a loved one have been charged with disorderly conduct, you can potentially face charges of a 1st- or 2nd-degree misdemeanor, resulting in jail time of 60 days to 1 year and a fine ranging from $500 to $1,000 (which could even be higher, depending on the severity of the crime). Here at Musca Law, we are experienced with criminal cases involving disorderly conduct and intoxication in the State of Florida and the City of Naples. If you have not initiated a fight or committed any of the aforementioned acts outlined in the statutes, you need the assistance of a professional defense attorney to help you protect your right to free speech (protected by the Constitution).
For more details about building your case, contact an experienced Musca Law attorney for a free initial consultation today.