Florida, like many other states, has laws on the books that are over one hundred years old. When reading these laws, they can obviously seem outdated and even confusing. Such laws are often written in a vague and old-timey manner that makes it difficult to tell what conduct is actually prohibited by the law. Prosecutors and police are very clever when it comes to interpreting these vaguely written laws in order to prosecute people for what should be non-criminal conduct. If you think you’ve been targeted and prosecuted for a crime like this, you should do everything you can do to defend yourself and assert your rights by hiring a specialized Clearwater criminal defense lawyer.
One of these vague and ancient laws is Florida Statute 877.03 which prohibits a breach of the peace and disorderly conduct. The statute has been around for a long and simply reading the text of the statute will give clues to how outdated the law really is. This has done nothing to stop police from charging people with this offense for extremely minor conduct. Because the criminal charge itself is relatively minor, it is rare that defendants choose to challenge their convictions to an extent that would get rid of the law. However, skilled lawyers like the ones at Hanlon Law have developed effective defenses against these types of charges.Elements of Disorderly Conduct
Florida’s disorderly conduct law states that it is a second degree misdemeanor punishable by up to 60 days in jail for anyone to commit an act “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, or engages in brawling or fighting, or engages in such conduct as to constitute a breach of the peace or disorderly conduct.”
Clearer, more modern criminal laws prohibit specific conduct. The theft statute makes it illegal to take the property of another person. The murder statute prohibits the premeditated killing of another human being. The disorderly conduct statute prohibits “corrupting the public morals” and “outraging public decency.” Public morals is an oxymoron. Every individual in our society has a different idea of what actions might be moral or immoral. Especially today, we have many citizens who have political and moral beliefs on opposite ends of the spectrum.
This confusing prohibition of outraging public decency makes it easy for cops and prosecutors to go after people for conduct that might not seem illegal. Often, charges like these are levied against people who are drunk and loud in public. Other times, officials will use these criminal charges to try to punish protesters or other people who are exercising their rights to free speech. Worst, police officers sometimes arrest people for disorderly conduct when they truly have no legal basis to make an arrest but simply want to detain someone that they don’t like.
People caught up in these situations often decide to plea guilty or no contest to the case because the prosecutors and judges involved offer attractive plea deals like time served or court costs. But these resolutions only serve to continue to justify the use of these vague and problematic criminal statutes. If you have been charged with breach of the peace or disorderly conduct, don’t take the plea until you have fully consulted with an experienced Clearwater criminal defense lawyer.Speak to a Criminal Defense Lawyer Today
A dedicated criminal lawyer by your side may be able to show that whatever you were arrested for was actually constitutionally protected. If you were arrested for yelling at a police officer or filming another person’s arrest, you were exercising your first amendment rights and your case should be dismissed. The lawyers at Hanlon Law are experienced dealing with nonsensical laws like these and can help develop the best defense for your case. Call our dedicated Clearwater criminal defense lawyers today at (727) 897-5413.