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Florida Disorderly Conduct Laws

Overview of Florida Disorderly Conduct Laws

Florida uses the offense of disorderly conduct, also known as a "breach of the peace," to regulate conduct in public places. State laws prohibit public acts that corrupt public morals or violate standards of public decency, or affect the peace and quiet of other people. Common scenarios leading to disorderly conduct charges include public arguments, public intoxication, and non-violent encounters with police.

Florida disorderly conduct laws also allow the prosecution of individuals who take part in public fights or brawls. The state refers to a public fight or brawl as an "affray." While the state generally treats disorderly conduct as a second degree misdemeanor, an affray can result in a first degree misdemeanor prosecution. In addition, a public fight or brawl qualifying as a "riot" according to state laws can result in a felony prosecution, which is a more serious proceeding than a misdemeanor charge.

Common Examples of Disorderly Conduct

  • Inciting a Riot
  • Disturbance of the Peace
  • Loitering in Certain Areas
  • Fighting or Physical Altercations
  • Obstructing Traffic
  • Use of Extremely Obscene or Abusive Language
  • Loud or Unreasonable Noise

Defenses to Disorderly Conduct Charges

  • Self-defense
  • First Amendment right to freedom of speech
  • Act did not occur in a public place

Penalties and Sentences

In general, Florida prosecutes a breach of the peace or disorderly conduct as a second degree misdemeanor. Under Florida law, the defendant may receive a sentence for a term of imprisonment lasting up to sixty days. The state may also impose a fine in an amount up to $500.

A public fight charged as a first degree misdemeanor or a riot charged as a third degree felony will likely result in a more severe penalty. A first degree misdemeanor can result in a term of imprisonment for up to one year.

In addition, disorderly conduct charges can result in substantial fines to the city or county that has jurisdiction.

Florida Disorderly Conduct Statute

Note: Florida disorderly conduct laws can get technical quickly, so it may be beneficial to consult with a local criminal law attorney about this issue if you are arrested and have been charged. Please contact a Florida criminal attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Related Resources:

  • Public Safety Violations
  • Disorderly Conduct
  • Disturbing the Peace
  • Public Intoxication
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