No American holiday is more closely associated with drinking celebrations than St. Patrick’s Day. People take part in festivities at pubs, private homes and street parties all over the country. However, if things get out of hand, that celebration can come at a cost.
According to Florida state law, it is a second degree misdemeanor to be intoxicated in public and create a public disturbance. The maximum penalty for public intoxication – also known as disorderly intoxication – is 60 days in jail and a $500 fine. Judges have leeway in sentencing, and can permit a defendant to go through pretrial diversion if it is their first offense.
Disorderly conduct is a separate charge that could be added on top of a public intoxication charge. According to Florida state statutes, someone can be charged with disorderly conduct if their behavior causes a safety hazard to those around them. This is also a misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and a $1000 fine. The charge is often a catch-all charge for when someone’s behavior is disorderly, but does not break any other specific laws.
While it might seem easier to simply plead guilty and pay the fines, you should consider the long-term consequences before choosing that option. Penalties for second and third time offenses are harsher than for first offenses, so, it is better not to have convictions for these charges on your record. The good news is, both of these charges can be successfully challenged in court. Florida’s disorderly conduct laws are somewhat vague. Often, cases are dismissed because the claim that you have caused a danger to others cannot be supported. You should have the support of a criminal lawyer to ensure the best possible outcome in your case. If you or a loved one has been charged with disorderly conduct or public intoxication, talk to one of our lawyers to help preserve your rights and freedom.