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In Florida, Disorderly Conduct (also known as Breach of Peace) is a criminal offense and second degree misdemeanor, as outlined in Section 877.03 of the Florida Statutes. Under Florida law, disorderly conduct or breach of peace occurs where an individual commits an act of a nature that “corrupts” the “public morals,” outrages the sense of public decency, or affects the peace and quiet of persons who may witness the act. The offense may also occur where the accused has engaged in brawling or fighting, such as in a mutual altercation (mutual combat).

If you have been arrested for disorderly conduct in Jacksonville, Duval County, Clay County, or Nassau County, you may have defenses available to contest the charge or to minimize potential penalties. Contact our Jacksonville Criminal Attorney today for a free consultation.  

Penalties for Disorderly Conduct- Florida Law

Under Florida law, disorderly conduct is classified as a second degree misdemeanor, which carries penalties of up to sixty days in jail and a $500 fine.  If you have been accused of disorderly conduct, contact our Jacksonville Disorderly Conduct and Breach of Peace Attorney to discuss your legal options. Disorderly Conduct is a highly defendable charge and you should not resolve your case without first speaking with an attorney.

Defenses to Disorderly Conduct / Breach of Peace

Disorderly conduct is one of the most defendable charges in all of Florida criminal law. Despite the broad wording of Florida’s Disorderly Conduct Statute, a conviction for Disorderly Conduct / Breach of Peace can not stand where the accused merely creates an annoyance, uses profanity, or displays a belligerent attitude.  Mere verbal conduct is also an insufficient basis for a conviction.

Where the reason for a Disorderly Conduct arrest is speech only, Florida’s disorderly conduct statute will only apply if the speech is not protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Unprotected speech can include “fighting words” (words that, by their very utterance, inflict injury or tend to incite an immediate breach of peace), words, known to be false, which report a physical hazard in circumstances creating a clear and present danger of bodily harm to others, and words that invade the right of others to pursue their lawful activities.

The use of profanity, cursing, swear words, or offensive words to police officers, standing alone, also does not constitute a breach of the peace or disorderly conduct.  However, where the verbal conduct causes legitimate safety concerns for the officer and interferes with police operations, the analysis may change.  Florida courts have upheld convictions for disorderly conduct where an accused acts in a loud and belligerent manner, directs his yelling towards police, interferes with police operations, and causes a crowd to gather (causing safety concerns for the officer).

Lastly, where a charge of disorderly conduct or breach of peace involves “fighting” or “brawling,” the defendant is not precluded from raising a self-defense claim.  A Jacksonville disorderly criminal defense lawyer may raise a self-defense claim in a situation involving a fight where the accused did not initiate the fight, and was acting to protect herself from her attacker.  If successfully raised, this defense requires the prosecution to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused did not act in self-defense.

If you have been accused of Disorderly Conduct / Breach of Peace in Jacksonville, Duval County, Florida, contact a Jacksonville Disorderly Conduct defense lawyer to discuss possible defenses. Our criminal defense attorney offers free consultations to all prospective clients.