Disorderly conduct sounds like a petty offense but nonetheless can lead to an arrest and a permanent criminal record and potentially some jail time. A criminal record could have a longterm effect on your employment, housing or educational opportunities. So if you are accused of disorderly conduct or disorderly intoxication in Tampa, it is important to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney. Kerstin Wade has over 10 years of experience and has successfully defended thousands of clients against criminal charges in the Tampa Bay area.
Disorderly conduct under Florida Statute 877.03 is defined as any act that:
Disturbs the peace and quiet of anybody who witnesses the incident,
Corrupts the public moral, or
Outrages the sense of public decency
It also includes brawling or fighting when the defendant is responsible for provoking the fight.
Disorderly intoxication is another variation of disorderly conduct and is a very common crime in Florida, Disorderly intoxication is covered under Florida statute 856.011 and is defined as:
The defendant endangering the safety of other people or property when the defendant was intoxicated OR
The defendant caused a public disturbance when the defendant was intoxicated or consumed alcohol in public.
One example for disorderly conduct involves incidents when a defendant exposes him or herself in public without an intent of public indecency. The police can arrest someone for disorderly conduct for urinating in a public parking lot or for sunbathing naked or topless on a public beach as long as it was not a nude beach.
An arrest for disorderly intoxication often occurs when a defendant gets drunk in a bar to the extent that he or she is no longer in control of his normal faculties and starts a bar fight.
Disorderly conduct and disorderly intoxication are similar offenses in that they both involve acts that disturb the general public peace or corrupt public morals. However, disorderly intoxication also requires proof that the defendant was intoxicated or consumed alcohol in public
Disorderly conduct and disorderly intoxication are both 2nd degree misdemeanors and are punishable by up to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine. The prosecutor can also ask for a probation sentence of up to 6 months. The statute for disorderly intoxication also provides that a defendant who has been convicted 3 times of the same offense in a period of 1 year is a habitual offender and can be committed to a treatment facility for 60 days.
The statutes for both disorderly conduct and disorderly intoxication in Florida are rather vague. However, despite the vague definition in the statute, there are several defenses to both of these crimes.
Everybody has a right to free speech. Therefore, a conviction for disorderly conduct cannot be supported just because the defendant was belligerent or used some curse words. Such actions would be protected by the constitutional right to free speech. The defendant has to actually disturb the peace or corrupt the morals of society.
The disorderly intoxication statute requires proof that the defendant was intoxicated. The prosecutor cannot simply prove intoxication by showing evidence that the defendant admitted to drinking a couple of alcoholic drinks. Rather, the state has to prove “that the defendant must have been so affected from the drinking of an alcoholic beverage as to have lost or been deprived of the normal control of either [his] [her] body or [his] [her] mental faculties, or both. Intoxication is synonymous with ‘drunk.'”
If you are charged with either disorderly conduct or disorderly intoxication in the Tampa Bay Area, you should hire an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately. A Tampa disorderly intoxication or disorderly conduct attorney can help you explore the subtle nuances of the law and may be able to develop a defense that could lead to the dismissal of the charges. Kerstin Wade has an office right in downtown Tampa, not far from the courthouse, and is available for a free consultation. If you or a loved one is charged with disorderly conduct or disorderly intoxication, contact us today at 813-401-0130 to see how we can help you.