Defending Against Tourist-Related Offenses In The Orlando, Florida Area
Orlando, with its year-round sunshine and world-renowned tourist attractions, attracts millions of visitors every year. It also remains a popular Spring Break destination for families and college students alike.
Unfortunately, a visit to Central Florida sometimes includes an arrest for an alleged criminal violation. Most commonly, these may include DUI, drug possession, assault, or disorderly conduct. A fun night out can turn into a nightmare quickly, as local law enforcement does not care where you are from or what your travel plans are.
5 Common Tourist-Related Criminal Charges in Florida
Five of the more common offenses one can be charged with while visiting Florida include:
- DUI. Drivers can pick up a DUI in any state, but while visiting Florida for vacation, you may be likelier to find yourself behind the wheel after enjoying a drink or two with dinner. An arrest for driving under the influence in Florida can not only ruin your trip, but can lead to criminal penalties, fines, and other collateral damage (suspension of a driver’s license, increased insurance premiums, a permanent stain on your criminal record). Florida’s DUI statute sets out a clear list of penalties for this offense, all of which you would much rather avoid. The sooner you contact a skilled Orlando criminal defense attorney after this type of violation, the better your prospects may be.
- Drug or marijuana possession. Orlando area law enforcement is always on the lookout for drug crimes, and will not hesitate to single out tourists (especially college students) for drug possession arrests. Under Florida’s drug possession statute, a person may be charged and convicted if they had “actual or constructive possession” of a controlled substance. This includes marijuana, even though it may be legal in your home state. Possession refers to actual control of the narcotic (for example, it was found in your pocket or handbag) as well as “constructive” possession – say, you had it within a drawer in your hotel room and knew where and what it was. Possession may be difficult for a prosecutor to ultimately prove, and an experienced criminal defense attorney may also be able to challenge the method that officers used to search and seize the substance.
- Retail Theft. The Orlando area’s high-end shopping centers and theme parks have millions of dollars worth of merchandise on their shelves, which can be targets for shoplifters and organized thieves. Many tourists and visitors can also find themselves caught up in a shoplifting charge due to some mix-up or misunderstanding, as law enforcement and retail managers are always on the lookout for any kind of suspicious activity. Florida’s theft statute requires a showing that a person knowingly intended to deprive the rightful owner of some property. Thus, you may have a valid defense if you unintentionally took an item, or your child placed it in your bag without you noticing, for example.
- Assault and/or Battery. An assault charge in Florida means that the defendant made some threat – by word or action – to commit violence against another person, with the apparent ability to do so. Since this depends in part on the perception of the alleged victim, it is easy for an argument or miscommunication to escalate to an assault charge within the parameters of Florida’s assault law.
Battery in Florida means the defendant “actually and intentionally” touched the other person against their will. The statute doesn’t necessarily mean that the other person was injured or hurt in the common sense of the terms.
Either charge requires that prosecutors meet a particular burden of proof that can be challenged – sometimes quite easily – by a defendant and their attorney.
- Disorderly Conduct. Disorderly conduct can sometimes overlap with an assault or battery charge, as fighting or brawling are addressed within Florida’s disorderly conduct statute. The law requires that a defendant’s acts “corrupt the public morals” or “outrage the sense of public decency” to rise to the level of disorderly conduct. On the other hand, a defendant may have been acting within their First Amendment freedom of speech rights when they were arrested. Typically, mere profanity – even directed toward police officers – is not sufficient to uphold a disorderly conduct charge.
When to Contact an Orlando-Area Criminal Defense Attorney
If you are visiting the area and are charged with any kind of criminal offense, there is no time to waste. A pending criminal charge can disrupt not only your vacation plans but your plans to get back home and return to work. These offenses can also carry penalties that include jail time, fines, and damage to your personal life. Our Orlando criminal attorneys at Joshi Law Firm, PA, can help you fight any number of potential charges and let you move on with your life. In many cases, we can arrange to waive your court appearances at pretrial matters (or arrange for you to appear via Zoom or other means), so the process is less disruptive for you and your family. Further, we will thoroughly review all facts involved and vigorously fight the prosecution’s case against you.