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Could protesting lead to a disorderly conduct charge?

On Behalf of | Aug 4, 2022 | Blog, Disorderly Conduct

The U.S. Constitution provides the people the right to protest peacefully. The key point here is the right is allowed as long as it remains orderly and peaceful.

In some cases, protests can get out of control and cross the line from lawful to unlawful. In those situations, it is possible that you could face disorderly conduct charges.

The charge

The Florida Statutes define disorderly conduct as being anything that impacts others and disturbs their peace. It also includes anything that would be against the general rules of public decency.

The situations

It is highly possible that a protest could get into territory where it disrupts the peace of others or violates public decency. These situations can become heated because they involve topics and issues that people are passionate about. When someone is deeply committed to a cause, they may be aware of how their actions are impacting others. Their focus is on trying to cause change and get attention for the issue.

Still, protests have to remain controlled. Once they begin to get out of hand, there is the potential that law enforcement will step in, and you could end up with a disorderly conduct charge.

The warning

The good news is that when law enforcement shows up to a protest situation, they will usually give ample warnings before making arrests. They may inform you about what you should not do or what you can no longer continue doing. For example, in most situations, you are not legally able to block a roadway. Officers may tell you to get out of the road. If you fail to follow the instructions, they could arrest you.

A disorderly conduct charge can look bad on your record. To avoid getting in trouble when protesting, you should pay attention to instructions from officers and make sure you understand the general rules in the area in which you will hold your event. A peaceful protest can be just as effective as one that gets out of control, and it will help ensure you do not walk away with a criminal record.