Many of the “Florida Man” stories that go viral on social media involve unfortunate characters arrested for Disorderly Intoxication. That’s because, under Florida Statute 856.011, alcohol- fueled public disturbances are against the law. But most people charged with disorderly intoxication are generally otherwise law-abiding citizens going through a tough time.
Sometimes people under pressure act out after having a few drinks. Young people out enjoying themselves a bit too much, or blowing off steam during spring break, can face drunk and disorderly charges.
It happens, and you can’t take it lightly because you can face serious consequences. A conviction means possible jail time and a criminal record. If you face disorderly charges in Florida, don’t let prosecutors pressure you to give up your rights. It’s best to have an aggressive courtroom fighter on your side. Call 407-349-4211 for a free case review with a criminal defense lawyer at the Rivas Law Firm.
What Does Disorderly Intoxication Mean?
The statute is broadly worded and gives police and prosecutors a lot of leeway:
“No person in the state shall be intoxicated and endanger the safety of another person or property, and no person in the state shall be intoxicated or drink any alcoholic beverage in a public place or in or upon any public conveyance and cause a public disturbance.”
The charge is a second-degree misdemeanor with a sentence of up to 60 days in jail, a $500 fine, and six months probation. Repeat offenders may be ordered to rehab.
Many people are tempted just to accept their fate, go through the process, and hope for the best. But Florida misdemeanor courts are notorious for rushing defendants through the process without advising them of their rights. In effect, the system denies accused people of their rights to due process of law. You may think that that you are saving money and time by just pleading guilty and getting it over with. But going before a judge on a criminal charge – even a misdemeanor – without an attorney can be a very costly mistake.
What Happens When you go to Court for a Misdemeanor?
After an arrest for a misdemeanor, unless the charges are very serious, you will likely be released on your own recognizance (ROR) and told to appear at an arraignment. At the arraignment, formal charges are presented and you (or your attorney) enter your plea. If you plead not guilty, the court schedules a pre-trial hearing. Then come the trial and sentencing if the jury finds you guilty.
That’s how the official process is supposed to go. In reality, misdemeanor charges like disorderly intoxication are handled in overburdened county courts. The system is set up to process as many defendants as possible – not to look after your best interests. Your rights are not the main concern. The system is set up to encourage guilty pleas, the more the better. In fact, most misdemeanor defendants give up their rights and plead guilty or no-contest at arraignment in the generally mistaken belief that they are doing the right thing.
Can Disorderly Conduct Charges be Dropped?
A skilled and aggressive criminal defense attorney can present many defenses to get disorderly intoxication charges dropped. A thorough investigation of the circumstances may reveal weaknesses in the prosecutor’s case. The state has to prove that you were intoxicated, which can be a subjective judgment. Did the incident take place in a public space? Was there a disturbance? Did your actions really endanger anyone’s safety?
Thousands of people are being held back in their lives and careers because of a criminal record. Even if you’ve made a mistake, there’s no reason to surrender your rights and accept a conviction without a fight. Call 407-349-421 for a free consultation with a tough and aggressive criminal defense attorney at the Rivas Law Firm.