Orlando Criminal Lawyer
call for a free
consultation

Florida Man Arrested & Charged With Crime for Testifying

Arrested

The Florida man who was arrested and sent to jail for simply speaking his mind at a city council meeting has captured news headlines, particularly as the U.S. Supreme Court hears his case on February 27th. The case will have implications for everyone regarding First Amendment protections of free speech.

The case started in 2006, when the man (Fane Lozman) vocally criticized the Riviera Beach City Council during the public comment portion of an open meeting. Council Chairperson Wade then summoned the police officer on duty and told Lozman to leave or be arrested, at which point Lozman was handcuffed, charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest, and taken to a holding cell.

Free Speech versus Disturbing Lawful Assembly

Although the charges were ultimately dropped, Lozman sued the city, alleging retaliation. The jury sided with the city, and a federal appeals court upheld the verdict, finding that there was probable cause to find that Lozman was either in the act of disturbing or intended to disturb lawful assembly under Florida law, which is a second-degree misdemeanor.

Lozman counters that all he was doing was exercising his free speech rights, whereas actual disorderly conduct involves going beyond your time to speak, using profanity or harassing in other ways. Lozman argues that city council actually objected to the content of his speech.

The decision in this case will have significant implications: Lozman losing could mean that government entities would have broad discretion to charge individuals with misdemeanors in order to interrupt their speech and their public comments. In addition, more than two dozen media organizations have filed an amicus brief in the case, pointing out similar issues they have experienced with stifled free speech.

What about False Arrest?

The city has countered that it—and other municipalities—similarly face dangerous repercussions if the case is not found in their favor; specifically, that Lozman successfully suing them for false arrest could open up Pandora’s box of expensive litigation for municipalities in general. They have also argued that law enforcement needs broad authority to make arrests like these in case individuals who appear to be exercising free speech are using this as a front to commit a terrorist activity. A decision in the case is expected by summer.

Florida and Massachusetts Criminal Defense against Disorderly Conduct Charges

An individual being arrested for disorderly conduct for simply testifying at a city council meeting is abhorrent. The charge of disturbing lawful assembly is reserved for individuals who disturb any school or religious assembly, and disorderly conduct is reserved for serious circumstances, where Florida’s public decency or public morals laws are violated.

Contact our experienced criminal defense attorneys at the Baez Law Firm today if you have been the victim of an abuse of power.

Resources:

npr.org/2018/02/27/586564094/the-curious-case-of-a-florida-man-who-called-politicians-corrupt-got-thrown-in-j

leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&Search_String=&URL=0800-0899/0871/Sections/0871.01.html

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
Miami

Miami Office

40 SW 13th St, Suite 901
Miami, FL 33130
Office: 305-999-5100
Fax: 305-999-5111
Orlando

Orlando Office

23 South Osceola Avenue
Orlando, FL 32801
Office: 407-705-2626
Fax: 407-705-2625

Email Us

Fields Marked * Are required

Captcha Image

DISCLAIMER: Completing and submitting this form or otherwise merely contacting The Baez Law Firm or any individual at the firm will not establish an attorney/client relationship. Our firm cannot represent you until we determine that there would be no conflict of interest and that we are otherwise able to accept representation of your case. Please do not send any information or documents until a formal attorney/client relationship has been established through an interview with an attorney and you have been given authorization in the form of an engagement letter with The Baez Law Firm. Any information or documents sent via this form or otherwise prior to your receipt of an engagement letter will not be treated as confidences, secrets, or protected information of any nature. Submitting information regarding your potential case will not bar The Baez Law Firm from representing or continuing to represent a person or entity whose interest are adverse to your in condition with your case.

DISCLAIMER: This website contains information about The Baez Law Firm that includes testimonial statements from persons who are familiar with the firm's services. The testimonials shown are not necessarily representative of every person's experience with us. Testimonials from every client are not provided. As no two situations or persons are identical, the facts and circumstances of your situation may differ from those for which testimonials are shown. This website also includes information about some of the past results that we have obtained for our clients. Not all results are provided, and the results shown are not necessarily representative of all results obtained by us. No two situation are exactly alike; every person's situation is unique and the outcome for each person depends on the individual facts.

The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.
MileMark Media - Practice Growth Solutions

© 2015 - 2018 Baez Law Firm. All rights reserved.
This law firm website is managed by MileMark Media.

Contact Form Tab Contact Form Tab