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 Defense Attorney
today for a free consultation.
Penalties for Disorderly Conduct- Florida?
Disorderly conduct is a second degree misdemeanor, with penalties of up to sixty
days in jail. If you have been accused of disorderly conduct, contact our Jacksonville
Disorderly Conduct and Breach of Peace Attorney to discuss your options under Florida
law. 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- Florida Law
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.