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protest.bmpTampa Bay has already begun the preparation to host the Republic National Convention to be held at the end of August. No doubt this will be an exciting time for the community as Delegates and Key Note speakers from around the country will be exploring the St. Petersburg and Tampa area. However, with the excitement of an upcoming presidential race comes controversy, with controversy comes protest, and often times protests lead interaction with law enforcement and often times arrests.

Police utilize several statutes to arrest citizens that may be engaged in protest or are overly disruptive. Under Florida Statute 877.03 persons who engage in conduct as to constitute a breach of the peace or disorderly conduct and against the peace and dignity of the State of Florida may be guilty of disorderly conduct. Police use disorderly conduct as the catch all crime to make arrest for persons acting out in protest. Violating Florida Statute 877.03 for being “disorderly” can land you or loved one in jail for 60 days and a fine of up to $500.00. Furthermore, if convicted, you can get up to six months of supervision.

Generally words alone will not be sufficient to sustain a conviction for disorderly conduct, however, any fighting or brawling, urinating, or having too much to drink will get you a ride to the county jail under the disorderly statute. If police are accusing you of disorderly conduct there are several things to remember: First, ask for your attorney! You are potentially being accused of a serious crime. An experienced trial attorney will be able to protect your rights and protect you from further incrimination. Second, keep your mouth shut! You have a Fifth Amendment right to remain silent. Use it! Do not make any statements and do not consent to any searches.

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