Disorderly conduct charges usually occur in one of the two following situations. 1) Verbal protest, arguing, cussing and name calling to officers or citizens. 2) Mutual combat or fighting. The free speech arguments can be very successful in many of the verbal cases. They are not all that relevant to the mutual combat cases. Mutual combat defenses are more commonly based on self-defense. I will give examples of case law to articulate the defenses for a Seminole County disorderly conduct cases.
Florida Statute 877.03. Breach of the peace; disorderly conduct
Whoever commits such acts as are of a nature to corrupt the public morals, or outrage the sense of public decency, or affect the peace and quiet of persons who may witness them, or engages in brawling or fighting, or engages in such conduct as to constitute a breach of the peace or disorderly conduct, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.
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.
Seminole County Disorderly Intoxication Attorney Seminole County Disorderly Conduct Lawyer
A defendant upon being confronted was holding a beer can and smelled strongly of alcohol began flapping his arms around and wanted to know why they were always picking on him. The officers were close enough to the appellant that he could have hit them. There was also testimony that appellant was talking loudly, using profanity and causing a little disturbance. The court agreed that these facts did not amount to disorderly intoxication. Blake v. State, 433 So.2d 611(Fla. 1 DCA 1983). A police dispatcher did not commit disorderly intoxication when he arrived at the station distraught over relationship with a female dispatcher. He crumbled and threw down sunglasses was escorted to a loading ramp, stiffened arms to prevent being handcuffed, put arresting officer in a headlock and ripped a officer’s shirt. The officer’s agreed that the defendant looked intoxicated. The Chief believed that the defendant was intoxicated enough to be arrested for DUI. The Court held under State v. Holden, 299 So.2d 8 (Fla. 1974) and Blake v. State that the conviction must be reversed. Jernigan v. State, 566 So. 2d 39, 40 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 1990). In State v. Holden, 299 So. 2d 8, 9 (Fla. 1974), the Florida Supreme Court recognized that Fla. Stat. §856.011 is limited “to situations where the public safety is endangered.” See also Jernigan v. State, 566 So. 2d 39, 40 (Fla. 1st DCA 1990) (“To sustain a conviction for disorderly intoxication as described in section 856.011(1), Fla. Stat.(1997), the State must prove not only that a person is intoxicated but that the public safety is endangered.”) Florida courts have found that actions such as “talking loudly, using profanity, and causing ‘sort of a little disturbance' are insufficient to sustain a conviction for disorderly intoxication” See Blake v. State, 433 So. 2d 611, 612 (Fla. 1st DCA 1983). Appellant's conviction for disorderly intoxication must be reversed as the public safety was never in danger. Mallet, v. State, 11 Fla. L. Weekly Supp. 617b. Officer's observation of defendant staggering down side of road was insufficient to provide probable cause to believe defendant was guilty of disorderly intoxication absent evidence to show she was, at time of arrest, endangering anyone or creating public disturbance; although defendant was intoxicated, she was not causing disturbance. Papalas v. State, 645 So. 2d 153 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 1994)