Under Florida law, a charge of disorderly conduct could result from anything that can affect someone’s “peace and quiet.” Also noted as a “breach of the peace” in the 2019 Florida Statutes, the law could apply to a variety of behaviors.
Disorderly conduct arrests have taken place under circumstances in which individuals involved themselves in a wide range of activities. An arrest may occur if a law enforcement official observes an individual behaving in any manner that disturbs those who may witness or hear such activity.
Major newspapers have reported disorderly conduct arrests involving individuals breaching the peace by such means as mowing a lawn at night or attempting to kiss strangers in a bar.
Yelling, making noise and disturbing the peace of others
A prosecutor does not need to prove involvement in a violent activity, such as a brawl or a riot, to obtain a conviction. Any behavior that might disturb a reasonable individual if heard or seen may constitute a chargeable offense. As noted by USA Today, yelling and banging on tables in a dining hall can lead to a disorderly conduct arrest.
When and where the purported conduct takes place can affect the severity of the charge and the consequences of an arrest. Loud shouting, for example, may disturb the peace in a quiet neighborhood at night, but it may not amount to much if it occurs on a busy street during the day.
Incurring penalties and collateral consequences
In Florida, disorderly conduct is a second-degree misdemeanor. Depending on the severity and type of purported behavior, a first-time offender may stand a chance of avoiding jail time and instead incur a sentence of community service or probation. If the individual’s alleged behavior, however, was highly disruptive or endangered public safety, a conviction could bring incarceration.
A misdemeanor charge can result in additional consequences. A conviction becomes part of a permanent criminal record and could hinder attempts at employment, establishing credit or renting a home.