Public order and obstruction crimes are crimes that interfere with or threaten the proper functioning of society and violate community standards. These type of crimes often weigh the freedom of one person against the right to peace and freedom of other people. Because a violation of these type of laws would interfere with how society functions as a whole, prosecutors will vigorously prosecute these crimes and seek harsh punishments, including jail or even prison time depending on the circumstances. Public order or obstruction crimes can be either misdemeanors or felonies.
Under Florida Statute 877.03 disorderly conduct is defined as any conduct that “corrupts the public morals,” or “disturbs the peace and quiet” of any bystanders, or “outrages the sense of public decency.” Disorderly conduct can also be charged for any fights or bar brawls. It’s a 2nd degree misdemeanor and punishable by up to 60 days in jail or 6 months of probation and a $500 fine.
Under Florida Statute 856.021 you can be charged with loitering and prowling if you are caught hanging out in an unusual place, at a time or manner unusual for law abiding citizens and if your presence is causing an “immediate concern for the safety of persons or property in the vicinity.” Loitering and Prowling is also a 2nd degree misdemeanor and is punishable by up to 60 days in jail or 6 months of probation and a $500 fine.
Florida Statute 562.111 makes it illegal for anybody under the age of 21 to possess alcohol. Possession of alcohol by a minor is a 2nd degree misdemeanor for a first time offense and a 1st degree misdemeanor for a second or subsequent offense. Therefore depending on the circumstances this charge is punishable by 60 days in jail or even 1 year in jail for a second offense.
Florida Statute 562.11(1) makes it illegal for anybody to serve, sell or otherwise provide alcohol to anyone under 21. A first offense is a 2nd degree misdemeanor and punishable by up to 60
days in jail while a second offense is a 1st degree misdemeanor and punishable by up to 1 year in jail.
Under Florida Statute 856.015 it is illegal for anyone to allow an open house party at his or her residence without taking any reasonable steps to prevent minors from consuming alcohol. Just like providing alcohol to minors this can be either a 2nd degree misdemeanor or a 1st degree misdemeanor depending on the circumstances.
Florida Statute 843.02 makes it illegal for anyone to resist, obstruct or interfere with a police officer. This can include situations where you are tensing up to prevent an officer to put handcuffs on as well as situations where you refuse to give information necessary for an officer to conduct an investigation. Resisting without violence is a 1st degree misdemeanor and punishable by up to 1 year in jail and a $1000 fine.
Florida Statute 843.01 makes it illegal for anyone to resist an officer with violence. This includes when you hit or push an officer or threaten to hit an officer in an effort to get away and avoid being arrested. Resisting with violence is a 3rd degree felony and is punishable by up to 5 years in prison and a $5000 fine.
Florida Statute 837.055 makes it illegal to knowingly give false information to a police officer who is investigating a felony or missing person. The charge requires an intent to mislead the police officer or hinder the investigation. Florida Statute 837.05 makes it illegal to provide false information to police “concerning the alleged commission of any crime. Providing false information to police or filing a false police report can be either a 1st degree misdemeanor or a 3rd degree felony and therefore can lead up to 5 years in prison.
Florida Statute 918.13 makes it illegal for anybody to conceal, alter or destroy evidence of a crime with the intent to hinder the use of the evidence. This crime requires that the defendant is aware that a criminal investigation is underway. Tampering with evidence is a 3rd degree felony and punishable by up to 5 years in prison and a $5000 fine.
Florida Statute 316.1935 makes it illegal for anybody to willfully refuse to stop or remain stopped when lawfully ordered to stop by a law enforcement officer. The crime requires that the defendant knew he had been ordered to stop by an officer. Fleeing and eluding is a 3rd degree felony and punishable by up to 5 years in prison and a $5000 fine. If there are aggravating circumstances, the charges can be elevated to either a 2nd and even a 1st degree felony.
Florida Statute 944.40 makes it a crime for a convicted or detained defendant to attempt to flee or flee from custody in an attempt to avoid detention. Escape is a 2nd degree felony and punishable by up to 15 years in prison and a $10000 fine.
A defendant is guilty of contempt of court if he or she does something to obstruct, hinder or defy the court. Common examples include situations when someone disrupts court proceedings by acting improperly in open court. Another common example is when a defendant refuses to comply with a court order. If you are accused of criminal contempt of court, you could face potential jail time.
There are various defenses to public order and obstruction crimes. Since there is a wide variety of crimes in this category, the defenses are often specific to the crime. However, the defenses can be grouped into two major categories.
One important defense to a lot of obstruction and public order crimes is a violation of a defendant’s constitutional right. This includes for example a potential violation of the first amendment right to free speech for disorderly conduct for example or a violation of the fourth amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures if the police discover evidence such as alcohol in a minor’s bag that was not visible to police before the search. It also includes a violation of the fifth amendment right to not be prosecuted twice for the same crime (double jeopardy) if someone is charged with multiple crimes that cover the same conduct, such as false information to a police officer and resisting without violence for giving false information to an officer.
Another important defense is if the state attorney is not able to prove all of the elements of the charged crime. If the prosecutor cannot prove all elements then the defendant has to be found not guilty. One element that is often hard to prove for the prosecutor is intent or knowledge.
Given the complexity of the issues involved in defending against public order and obstruction crimes and the possible severe consequences that include possible jail or prison time and a permanent criminal record, it is important to hire an experienced, knowledgable Tampa criminal
defense attorney. Kerstin Wade has over 10 years of experience representing defendants in criminal courting Tampa, Brandon, Plant City and all other cities in Hillsborough County. Call us today at 813-401-0130 to speak to Kerstin Wade.