Arrested for Disorderly Conduct? The Elements of the Crime

Disorderly conduct is a commonly charged crime in Broward County and typically those arrested are first time offenders.  Sometimes those arrested for disorderly conduct did in fact commit the offense but in our experience as former state prosecutors, this crime is frequently used by police officers to “punish” those who don’t show enough respect to the badge.  If you have been accused of disorderly conduct, our criminal lawyers want to fight for you.

Elements of Disorderly Conduct in Florida

Disorderly conduct is considered a “breach of peace” crime and is defined in 877.03, Florida Statutes as: Such acts as are of a nature to:

  1. corrupt the public morals, or
  2. outrage the sense of public decency, or
  3. affect the peace and quiet of persons who may witness them, or
  4. engages in brawling or fighting, or
  5. engages in such conduct as to constitute a breach of the peace or disorderly conduct.

Defenses to Disorderly Conduct

The elements of disorderly conduct cover such a large range of conduct that a local criminal defense attorney is often needed to defend the criminal charge.  In a classic example, law enforcement arrests an individual lawfully asserting their First Amendment rights and then files disorderly conduct charges.  In this situation, the job of the criminal lawyer is to litigate the First Amendment protection issues against the prosecutor.

Speech alone is typically not enough for a disorderly conduct charge.  In most cases, for the charge of disorderly conduct to be upheld there is speech with an additional element, non-verbal conduct.  An example would be conduct which infringes on the ability of law enforcement to fulfill their duties.  Even speech that has been deemed to be loud, belligerent, or annoying is not enough to override First Amendment protections.  Florida courts have upheld actions “that were no more than a mere annoyance” do not rise to the level of disorderly conduct.

Penalties for Disorderly Conduct

In Broward County, and the State of Florida as a whole, disorderly conduct is a second degree misdemeanor.  As a second degree misdemeanor, disorderly conduct may be punished by up to sixty (60) days in jail or six (6) months of probation, and a $500 fine.  Being that most of our local disorderly conduct arrests are for first time offenders, with the help of a criminal defense lawyer in Fort Lauderdale, jail can usually be avoided.  However, even if jail is avoided there are other consequences that must be considered.

If you have been arrested for disorderly conduct, even if the charge is dismissed, you now have a criminal record which may be viewed by the public.  The record of this arrest may be viewed by spouses, parents, colleagues, potential employers, and schools.  For our first time offender clients we often suggest the client considers sealing or expunging their record.  Sealing or expunging a criminal charge can remove the public record of the arrest.

If you have been arrested for disorderly conduct in Fort Lauderdale, contact the law office of Pagan & Stroleny, P.L. for a free consultation with one of our former Assistant State Attorneys, (954) 256-1464.  Our Broward criminal attorneys have a proven track record of successfully defending disorderly conduct charges and we will fight to get you the best possible result.  Pagan & Stroleny, P.L. was founded by defense attorneys Christopher Pagan, Esq. and Julian Stroleny, Esq. to provide the highest level of legal representation to those accused of criminal wrong doing.

Disorderly Conduct