20th Jun 2017

A criminal defense attorney in Miami Dade can explain that one of the most commonly overused charges that prosecutors may bring are for loitering or prowling charges.   If not careful, a person may be at the receiving end of these charges even if he or she was not committing any type of criminal activity.   A criminal defense attorney in Miami Dade can explain the elements of these charges, the potential penalties and what defenses may be asserted.

Elements

Under Florida law, loitering or prowling charges can arise when a person loiters or prowls in a place, at a certain time or a manner that is not typical for law-abiding individuals.   Furthermore, the suspect’s actions must be under such circumstances that rise to the level of causing a reasonable alarm or immediate concern for the safety of people or property in the area.   The actions must be committed in front of an officer for the actions to result in arrest.

Penalties

Loitering or prowling is considered a second degree misdemeanor in Florida.   It carries with it a maximum of 60 days in jail, six months probation and a $500 fine.

Defenses

In some situations, a law enforcement officer who suspects someone of criminal activity may try to detain them based on loitering or prowling.   This may result in a citizen being detained without any lawful justification.   Even if the person is later found to be in possession of drugs or burglary tools, the initial detention for loitering or prowling may be charged if there was no constitutional grounds for the detention.   Often, law enforcement officers might use the statute to try to seize citizens whom they believe are suspicious.   However, simple vague references to suspiciousness is insufficient to support these charges.

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