Disorderly conduct is a common charge in Palm Beach Gardens. Consuming large amounts of alcohol often contributes to public intoxication and potential arguments in public, both of which could lead to encounters with law enforcement and criminal charges.
You may want to consider consulting with an experienced criminal defense attorney if you are facing a disorderly conduct charge, as learning how to optimize different areas of your case may help you build a credible defense against the accusation. A Palm Beach Gardens disorderly conduct lawyer could provide representation in Court, negotiate on your behalf, and help alleviate the stress of going through the Court system alone. Work with the skilled attorneys at Leifert & Leifert and know that you are in capable hands.
Defining a Disorderly Conduct Incident
Florida Statutes §877.03 prohibits conduct that disturbs the peace and quiet of others or violates community standards of decency, and conduct that infringes on either of these can result in a disorderly conduct arrest. Also referred to as “breach of the peace,” charges of disorderly conduct can also be used to arrest and punish participants in brawls and even riots.
Typically, disorderly conduct charges are Second-Degree Misdemeanors, but a public fight or brawl can be treated as a First-Degree Misdemeanor, and a riot can result in Felony charges. Additional potential justifications for a disorderly conduct charge may include:
- Fighting or picking a fight in a public place
- Shouting in a public place to incite violence or disorderly conduct
- Bullying or harassing a student on or near school grounds
- Holding an unlawful and/or unpermitted public assembly
- Intentionally playing loud music during the night that continues, even after a fair warning
- Obstructing traffic
- Use of extremely obscene or abusive language
- Arguing with a Law Enforcement Officer in public
Defending Against a Charge of Disorderly Conduct
The police have considerable discretion when arresting someone for disorderly conduct, as the offense is fairly subjective, particularly when it centers around using obscene or suggestive language and verbal abuse. In any instance of someone allegedly breaching the peace, law enforcement officers must decide if the behavior was sufficiently loud or obnoxious enough to disturb other people in the area, which leaves room for subjective reasoning that could potentially invalidate a charge if examined thoroughly in Court.
Disorderly conduct must typically take place in public. As such, a common defense strategy is to prove that you were not out in public at the time of the alleged offense. Another potential defense is the assertion of First Amendment rights or the right to free speech. Defenses based on free speech are often used by people arrested during assemblies, rallies, parades, or other activities intended to provide a forum for the expression of opinions.
In the case of fights or physical altercations, self-defense may be a valid legal defense. Specifically, you may argue that you responded to an immediate threat that placed you in danger. A Palm Beach Gardens disorderly conduct lawyer could provide further advice about how you might best be able to defend yourself in your particular case.
Potential Penalties for Disorderly Conduct
The penalties for a disorderly conduct offense often vary from a potential Misdemeanor to a Felony charge. When a person is charged with a Second-Degree Misdemeanor, they may be fined $500 by the state and possibly spend a term of imprisonment of up to 60 days in jail. A First-Degree Misdemeanor conviction, meanwhile, can result in a more severe penalty of up to one year in prison and a substantial fine. Additionally, the city or county may apply additional fines for a disorderly conduct conviction.
Generally, a Third-Degree Felony may be incurred when a person allegedly participated in a riot. This is a much more serious charge, and the penalties often become more severe than they would be for a Misdemeanor, often greatly depending on the severity of potential damages or injuries or the specific behavior of the person charged with the offense.
Speaking with a Palm Beach Gardens Disorderly Conduct Attorney
A conviction for a disorderly conduct offense may negatively influence your standing with the law and could harm your employment status or potential employment prospects. Clearly understanding your charge and possible legal options, on the other hand, may positively influence the outcome of your case.
The legal process can be difficult to decipher alone, but a legal advocate who understands the system could make a positive difference in your situation. Contact Leifert & Leifert today for a consultation with a skilled Palm Beach Gardens disorderly conduct lawyer.