The fireworks. The smell of barbeque. Picnic blankets, USA flags, and a random day off of work. What could go wrong on the 4th of July?
We are here to tell you. Read on to learn about 8 commonly-charged crimes in Palm Beach County, Florida on Independence Day.
1. Disorderly Intoxication. Florida Statute Section 856.011 defines Disorderly Intoxication as either endangering the safety of a person or property while intoxicated, or drinking alcohol in public and causing a public disturbance. Because alcohol is a popular drink on the 4th of July and outdoor gatherings are equally common, it is easy to see how vigilant law enforcement can effectuate an arrest for this charge if things get a little rowdy. Disorderly intoxication is a second degree misdemeanor punishable by sixty (60) days in jail and a $500 fine.
2. Disorderly Conduct. Even without the alcohol, any action “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 any brawling, fighting, or “breach of the peace,” is considered disorderly conduct according to Florida Statute Section 877.03. What does this even mean? While we admit the law is vague on disorderly conduct, some examples include loud noises, obscene language, and physical altercations. This charge is also a second degree misdemeanor with the same maximum penalties as Disorderly Intoxication.
3. Open House Parties. While the name of this charge sounds fun, the penalties aren’t. Open house parties can be charged as a second or first degree misdemeanor depending on the facts and the accused’s criminal history. If charged as a first degree misdemeanor, the defendant is subject to a maximum penalty of a year in jail and a $1000 fine. Open House Parties, Section 856.015 Florida Statutes, refers to a homeowner (or a person having control of a residence) allowing minors to drink alcohol in his or her home during a party.
4. Resisting Without Violence. Found in the “Obstructing Justice” chapter of the Florida Statutes, Resisting Without Violence is defined as resisting, obstructing or opposing a law enforcement officer in the lawful execution of duty. Florida Statutes Section 843.02 designates this crime as a first degree misdemeanor, punishable by a year in jail and a $1000 fine. Resisting Without Violence doesn’t have to involve resisting an arrest; rather, it encompasses the refusal to follow any lawful order from police, such as exiting a car or staying at a distance while police conduct an investigation.
5. Possession of Alcohol Under 21. Any person under the age of 21 – other than those acting within the scope of employment, such as a waiter or waitress – who possesses alcoholic beverages, can be charged with this second degree misdemeanor. Upon a second or subsequent conviction for Possession of Alcoholic Beverages by Persons Under Age 21, the accused is subject to first degree misdemeanor penalties. The common enforcers of this charge are officers from the Florida Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), who visit college campuses regularly in search of violations.
6. Boating Under the Influence (BUI). Similar to Driving Under the Influence, a person is guilty of Boating Under the Influence (BUI) if operating a vessel while under the influence of alcohol or controlled substances to the extent that his or her normal faculties are impaired, or while having a blood or breath alcohol level of .08 or above. The penalties for BUI involve hefty fines and incarceration, among other sanctions. BUI can range from misdemeanor to felony depending on a person’s prior offenses and any harm done to others.
7. Sale of Fireworks. Did you know thatselling or exploding fireworks without a permit is illegal? While not commonly enforced, violation of Florida Statutes Section 791.02 is a first degree misdemeanor in Florida. The definition of “fireworks” is outlined in chapter 791 and should be studied closely to avoid an unnecessary charge.
8. Open Container. There are several potential charges regarding possession of open containers on a state, county and municipal level. Florida Statute Section 316.1936 prohibits possessing an open container of alcohol while in a vehicle. Violation of 316.1936 is a noncriminal infraction. However, local governments have enacted more stringent open container laws that effectively criminalize the act and subject the accused to fines and jail time. County and municipal ordinances also extend beyond possession of alcoholic beverages in a vehicle and include possession of alcohol in public.
Given the stressful year, we really want you to enjoy Independence Day 2020. You deserve a break and a good time. We only remind you to be safe and become informed of our laws to prevent anything from clouding your 4th of July.
Casanova Law, P.A.