Orlando is known for its tourism industry. As a result Orlando has an active night life and numerous bars. This can be the catalyst for an Orlando disorderly conduct arrest for locals and visitors. An Orlando disorderly conduct attorney will typically see 3 different types of disorderly conduct arrests. 1) Mutual combat when both parties are fighting. Since both parties are actively participating in the fight a battery charge is not appropriate so the police will often go with a disorderly conduct charge. 2) Yelling, screaming and protesting can often result in a disorderly conduct charge but will rarely result in a conviction. Sometimes this is based on a public disturbance or other times it is based on causing a disturbance when the officer is called to the public disturbance or is trying to maintain peace in a crowded area. These are common as the bars close for the night. If someone starts causing a scene or uses profanity with the officer they will quickly make an arrest for disorderly conduct often with little regard for the constitutional right to free speech. Unless the speech incites a right or causes panic (yelling bomb on an airplane or fire in a crowded theater) it is generally protected. Racial slurs are not protected and can result in a disorderly conduct arrest. 3) Flashing streaking and any type of public nudity can result in an Orlando disorderly conduct arrest. This is generally lifting shirts or dropping pants without a sexual nature. If the act becomes sexual or vulgar beyond simple flashing the police will often go with lewd and lascivious exhibition or indecent exposure. The behavior in some Orlando disorderly conduct cases can be offensive but simply being offensive does not mean it is not constitutionally protected.
Common defenses in Orlando disorderly conduct cases are free speech, freedom of expression and self-defense. These defenses have a great deal of case law in Florida and even in the Supreme Court. The First amendment protects a significant amount of verbal challenge and criticism directed at police officers. “Speech is often provocative and challenging but it is never the less protected against censorship and punishment unless shown likely to produce a clear and present danger of serious substantive evil that rises far above public inconvenience, annoyance, or unrest. Terminiello v. Chicago 337 U.S. 1, 4, 69 S.Ct. 894, 895. In a concurring opinion Justice Powell in Lewis v. New Orleans suggested that even the fighting words exception might require a narrower application in words addressed at police officers because a properly trained officer may reasonably be expected to show a higher degree of restraint than the average citizen and thus be less likely to respond belligerently to fighting words. Lewis v. New Orleans, 415 U.S.130 at 135. In the face of verbal challenge to police action, officers and municipalities must respond with restraint. The First Amendment recognizes, wisely we think, that a certain amount of expressive disorder not only is inevitable in a society committed to individual freedom, but must itself be protected for that freedom to survive. City of Houston v. Hill, 107 S.Ct. 2502 at 471-472. Justice Brennan said, "The freedom of individuals verbally to oppose or challenge police action without thereby risking arrest is one of the principal characteristics by which we distinguish a free nation from a police state." 482 U.S. 451, at 463. If you are arrested for disorderly conduct in Orange County call Orlando disorderly conduct attorney Kevin J. Pitts at 407-883-6853. Disorderly conduct attorney Kevin J. Pitts is a former Florida prosecutor and Orlando criminal defense attorney that has prosecuted and defended disorderly conduct cases. The initial consultation is always free.