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Free Speech vs. Disorderly Conduct: Know Your Rights

By Hager & Schwartz, P.A.

September 22, 2020

Your Legal Rights When Exercising Free Speech

There is a difference between free speech and disorderly conduct; however, free speech can sometimes be misinterpreted as disorderly conduct. Understanding your free speech rights and what constitutes disorderly conduct, can help you avoid an arrest. Here’s what you need to know.

What is Free Speech?

According to the first amendment of the U.S. Constitution, all Americans have the right to express themselves within the law’s boundaries. That means you have the right to express your thoughts and feelings in public without fear of censorship, harassment, or retaliation.

However, freedom of speech comes with limits. The law does not permit you to say things that might cause potentially harmful reactions from others. Failure to do so might result in disorderly conduct charges.

What is Disorderly Conduct?

People often think of disorderly conduct in terms of the bad behavior someone exhibits while under the influence. Generally, disorderly conduct is any behavior that is destructive or disruptive to others. That would include damaging property, fighting, and disturbing the peace with unnecessary noise/actions.

In the state of Florida, disorderly conduct is a second-degree misdemeanor with one crucial caveat. If the charges relate to participation in a fight or brawl, the prosecutor could up the charges to a first-degree misdemeanor.

What to Do if You Get Arrested for Disorderly Conduct

If you were to be arrested for disorderly conduct and taken into custody, the law requires the arresting officer to read your Miranda rights. Your rights entitle you to be silent and have access to legal representation. Before saying anything to a law enforcement official, it’s critical to hire an attorney. Your attorney will guide you through the legal process.

Have You Been Arrested for Disorderly Conduct? We can Help

If you are facing disorderly conduct charges in Florida, the attorneys at Hager & Schwartz, P.A. can help you. We are experienced criminal defense attorneys who can work with you through the legal proceedings to resolve the case as quickly and efficiently as possible.

To get our representation in the Broward County area, contact us today at (954) 840-8713 to discuss your case.