18th Sep 2015
A criminal defense attorney in Miami Dade can explain that Florida criminalizes the act of loitering and prowling in a location, at a time or in a way that is not usual for individuals who abide by the law. However, a criminal defense attorney in Miami Dade will also mention that the prosecution must show more than that a defendant was merely being idle at such a time or location. Instead, the prosecution must show that the defendant’s actions warranted a justifiable and reasonable alarm or immediate concern for the community, including people’s safety or property in the area. Furthermore, a police officer must personally witness the behavior, according to Florida case law.
Conviction of a loitering and prowling offense can result in up to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine. However, being incarcerated can have additional personal and economic consequences, including the loss of a job or estrangement from family. In order to help avoid these negative consequences, a defendant may consult with a lawyer in order to determine a legal strategy.
The strategy may focus on the second tier of the crime – that of causing alarm or immediate concern. For example, any potential alarm or concern can be dispelled if the officer stops the defendant and asks about his or her presence there. If the officer does not attempt this communication, a jury can find in favor of the criminal defendant. The jury may consider the circumstances surrounding the exchange between the officer and the defendant, such as that the defendant did not take flight once police arrived, that the defendant identified himself or herself and that the defendant did not attempt to conceal a weapon.
The criminal defendant may also provide a reasonable explanation for his or her presence at a certain place and a certain time. Merely being idle somewhere does not rise to the level of conviction for loitering and prowling, which focuses on showing that the individual was coming close to committing a crime but fell short of it at the time police arrived.
Loitering and prowling is an easily defensible crime.