A pair of Florida Criminal Code sections enumerate certain types of conduct that are considered to be disorderly conduct. The statutory provisions also set forth penalties that can be imposed if a person is convicted of one of them. In addition, Florida’s disorderly conduct law also sets forth some defenses that can be mounted when facing such a charge.
Examples of disorderly conduct under Florida law
Florida statutes set forth a number of different types of conduct that rise to the level of disorderly conduct. The most commonplace ones are:
- Disturbance of the peace
- Loitering in restricted or certain areas
- Inciting a riot
- Obstructing traffic
- Fighting and other types of physical altercations
- Loud or unreasonable noise
- Use of abusive language or obscenities
Penalties upon a conviction for disorderly conduct
Under state law, disorderly conduct charges can be classified as either first or second-degree misdemeanors. If a charge is classified as a first-degree misdemeanor, a conviction can carry a sentence of up to a year imprisonment. If the case involves a second-degree misdemeanor, a sentence of up to 60 days can be imposed upon conviction.
As an aside, inciting a riot can also be charged as a third-degree felony in Florida. A conviction on a third-degree incitement charge can result in a prison term of over a year.
Defenses to a disorderly conduct charge
The three most commonplace defenses to a disorderly conduct charge are:
- The right to free speech pursuant to the First Amendment
- The act did not occur in a public setting
In many cases, a person charged with disorderly conduct for the first time is more likely to receive a fine rather than a term of incarceration upon conviction. If a person has a prior criminal record, the sentence is likely to be more severe.