Disorderly conduct charges in Florida may not seem like that big of a deal, but an arrest for anything is enough to give you a criminal record. Even a minor brush with the law can have a disastrous effect on your chances to find work, housing, or government aid. Yet most people unwittingly surrender their rights and accept the consequences after feeling pressured to plead guilty in a rushed hearing that leaves them bewildered and defeated.
A misdemeanor conviction can mean fewer job prospects and lower incomes for the rest of your life. A report by the Brennan Center for Justice found “severe economic losses for those with even minor criminal convictions.”
According to studies, of the more than 70 million Americans with arrest records, nearly two thirds “were either convicted of misdemeanors (often without a lawyer present) or never convicted of anything; they were never charged, had charges dropped or were found not guilty. But they still have a record.”
It doesn’t have to be this way. You have rights. If you face criminal charges in Florida, a tough, experienced attorney is your best chance at avoiding a criminal record. Call 407-349-4211 for a free consultation with the criminal defense team at the Rivas Law Firm.
What is the Typical Charge in Florida for Disorderly Conduct?
Although the offense is most often associated with disturbing-the-peace violations like loud and obnoxious behavior or picking a fight outside a bar at closing time, police have a lot of discretion. They can and do file disorderly conduct charges in many different situations. Police have charged people with disorderly conduct for not wearing a mask during the pandemic.
Because the wording of the statute is pretty broad and vague, law enforcement finds it comes in handy for arresting people who are disrespectful or those who they see as general troublemakers. For example, you can get a “contempt of cop” disorderly conduct charge for giving the man the finger or yelling obscenities as he writes you a speeding ticket.
The government also uses disorderly charges to keep a crowd under control during times of civil unrest. Police booked more than 100 people for such offenses during police brutality protests in Orlando. In these situations, prosecutors often bring related charges of rioting or incitement to riot.
Experts are concerned about the police arresting increasing numbers of students for disorderly conduct in Florida’s schools. Juvenile justice authorities say that “these sorts of charges are highly discretionary” – and often unnecessary. A misdemeanor arrest is often the first step on a young person’s path to the criminal justice system.
Is Disorderly Conduct a Misdemeanor in Florida?
At a minimum, it’s a second-degree misdemeanor, with a sentence of up to 60 days in jail, plus probation and a $500.00 fine. Even though an arrest on disorderly conduct charges in Florida can mean jail time, fines, probation, community service – and the prospect of a permanent criminal record, most people face the court unprepared.
Most people charged with misdemeanors in Florida are rushed through the process without being fully aware of their rights and plead guilty, not fully understanding the lifelong consequences.
A skilled and aggressive criminal defense attorney can fight these charges in many ways. Police often abuse their discretion when filing disorderly conduct charges. A prosecutor may have a hard time proving that your words or actions were in fact a “breach of the peace.” The fact that you had an attitude and cursed out the cops is not enough. There may be free speech issues or self-defense arguments. The police or prosecutor may have made procedural errors. The important thing is to have a skilled attorney fighting for you. You don’t have to let prosecutors rush you through the system and hope for the best. If you face criminal charges in Florida, call 407-349-4211 to get a free consultation about your case with a tough, seasoned trial lawyer at the Rivas Law Firm.