As a society, we agree to adhere to certain manners of conduct that are considered by the general public to be of a certain moral caliber. When a person breaches these rules, they can be charged with a crime known as disorderly conduct. Disorderly conduct is any behavior that disrupts the peace or creates an unsafe or offensive environment for other people.
However, sometimes these rules aren’t very transparent and people find themselves facing such a charge. At the Law Office of Robert H. Hanaford, we specialize in cases involving disorderly conduct. We understand that some people are falsely accused of this crime and we are here to defend your rights. In this article, we will discuss what constitutes disorderly conduct and what the potential consequences of a conviction may be.
What Is Disorderly Conduct?
Also known as breach of the peace, a charge of disorderly conduct means that a person has committed an act that either disrupts public peace or creates a dangerous or offensive atmosphere. Florida statute 877.03 states that disorderly conduct is a “corruption of public morals….or public decency.” This may include actions such as public fighting, brawling, or other various acts as well. It is generally classified as a misdemeanor.
Such a broad definition means someone who is charged with disorderly conduct can be held accountable for a variety of behaviors. One of the significant issues with this definition is how it often impedes our First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and expression. Because of this, it’s important to have a lawyer experienced in protecting these rights and who can help you fight any potential charges.
What Actions Constitute Disorderly Conduct?
Generally, disorderly conduct includes any behavior that disrupts the peace or creates a dangerous or offensive environment for others. Some of the most common examples include:
Disturbing a Religious Service or Funeral
Disrupting a religious service or funeral can interfere with the rights of others to peacefully practice their faith or mourn a loved one. Depending on the nature of the disruption, such an act may go beyond disorderly conduct and venture into other crimes. For example, if an individual is arrested for disruptive behavior in a religious setting, they may face charges associated with hate crimes if the disruption is motivated by bias.
Making False Reports to Law Enforcement
Filing a false report with law enforcement, including filing a false report of a crime or an emergency, not only wastes the time of law enforcement, but it can also distract them from other more important matters.
Music That Is Too Loud
Whether the music is coming from a private residence or a vehicle traveling down the street, playing music too loud can be considered a form of disorderly conduct. Vehicles equipped with sound systems that allow music to be plainly heard from a distance of 25 feet or more can be subject to fines and other penalties.
Engaging in Lewd Behavior in Public
Lewd behavior consists of actions or behaviors that are considered to be inappropriate or offensive. Such behavior can include public nudity, indecent exposure, and sexual acts.
Inciting a Riot
There is a fine line between encouraging people to stand up for themselves and inciting a riot. That line is typically drawn when an individual or group of individuals attempt to incite or encourage a group of people to become violent or engage in other disorderly conduct. Inciting a riot can have serious consequences and even the possibility of being charged with a hate crime.
Creating a False Alarm
Creating a false alarm can range from making a false report of a fire or other emergency to activating a fire alarm in a public building. Similarly, even yelling “fire!” when in public when there is no threat of a fire is not covered under the First Amendment and can be considered a form of disorderly conduct.
How Does a Disorderly Conduct Charge Affect My Life?
The penalties for a disorderly conduct conviction go far beyond fines and jail time. A conviction can also lead to a criminal record, which can affect future job opportunities and make it difficult to rent an apartment or house. In addition, a conviction could also result in the suspension of a professional license or the loss of other privileges, if the act committed is particularly egregious.
Without any other aggravating circumstances added, being convicted of breach of the peace can mean penalties of up to 60 days in jail, six months probation, $500 in fines, and a permanent conviction on your record. Therefore, working with a lawyer to help you avoid a conviction is extremely important. If you successfully get the case dropped, you could be eligible to have the record expunged.
Fighting Florida Criminal Disorderly Conduct Charges with the Help of Hanaford Law
Facing any type of criminal charge can be a stressful and intimidating experience. When faced with such serious consequences, it is essential to have experienced legal representation to ensure that your rights are fully protected.
The criminal defense team at the Law Office of Robert H. Hanaford understands that the stakes can be high in a disorderly conduct case. We are committed to pursuing the best possible outcome for our clients. Don’t try to fight this on your own. Contact us online or call us at (239) 315-9750 today to schedule a free consultation and discover how we can help you fight for your rights.