And The Penalties For Each
In Florida, there are many charges that tend to overlap because the Florida legislature has a tendency to err on the side of allowing law enforcement and prosecutors a lot of discretion on how to charge individuals.
That is why in many cases, the suspects are charged with duplicative crimes and if the respective state attorney doesn’t see the error, these subsequent prosecutions inevitably violate double jeopardy protections.
Therefore, it is of vital importance that a criminal defense attorney be keenly aware of these potential issues, should they arise.
An area where we see a great deal of overlap is in certain classes of misdemeanor offenses. These are:
- Resisting Arrest
- Disorderly Conduct (Breach of Peace)
- Disorderly Intoxication (Public Intoxication)
These last two, Disorderly Conduct and Disorderly Intoxication are commonly mixed up, but they do have differences:
Disorderly Intoxication (Public Intoxication)
Under Florida Statute 856.011, an intoxicated person who causes a public disturbance or endangers another person or another person’s property commits the crime of disorderly intoxication, a second-degree misdemeanor.
To obtain a conviction, the State must prove the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:
The defendant was intoxicated and endangered the safety of another person or their property.
The defendant was either intoxicated or drinking publicly and caused a public disturbance.
A public place is defined as a place where the public has the right to be.
Intoxication is defined as more than being under the influence of alcohol and must have affected the person to a sufficient degree where the person was deprived of the normal functions of their body and/or mental faculties.
The penalties for disorderly intoxication may include up to sixty days county jail, six months probation, and a $500 fine.
Further, per Florida Statute 865.011(3), a person found guilty of violating this statute three times within a twelve-month period may be committed to an appropriate treatment facility for up to sixty days.
Numerous defenses exist to the charge of disorderly intoxication. A defendant’s admission to consuming alcohol is not sufficient on its own to prove that he or she was intoxication but this fact may be considered along with other evidence.
Further, the defendant’s actions must extend beyond being annoying or a nuisance while drinking in a public area.
If the defendant was in a private place where he or she had the right to be that was not open to the general public and did not endanger the safety of anyone else, the charge of disorderly intoxication cannot stand.
Sometimes Public Intoxication can be charged pursuant to specific county ordinances which may have unique charging elements, but still is considered a misdemeanor offense.
Per Florida Statute 877.03, a person that commits any act or acts that corrupt public morals, outrages the public’s sense of decency, or negatively affect the peace and quiet of those that witness them commits the crime of disorderly conduct, a second-degree misdemeanor.
A charge of disorderly conduct may also be levied against a person for fighting or engaging in conduct that constitutes a breach of the peace.
This statute is clearly ambiguous and vague, but considered not considered unconstitutional as applied.
The net result is that this charge is difficult to defend before a judge or jury because the allegation requires such a minimal standard of conduct in order to rise to a purported “criminal level.”
However, the statute does require that the defendant’s conduct must extend beyond loud or profane language and a belligerent attitude. So in theory, it should be something more than simply the opposite of “orderly conduct.”
The penalties for disorderly conduct may include up to sixty days county jail, six months probation and a $500 fine.
If you or a family member has been arrested for Disorderly Intoxication or Disorderly Conduct in Okaloosa County or Walton County, Florida, give me a call at (850) 362-6655 and I’ll evaluate your issue for free and discuss what may happen to you.