Loitering or Prowling Attorney in Tampa, FL
Loitering or prowling is a criminal charge used by police and prosecutors to maintain order and prevent more serious crimes from taking place. Unfortunately, it is a poorly defined offense, and police often use loitering or prowling charges to punish behavior that is not criminal. If you have been charged with loitering or prowling, make sure you have adequate legal representation before making any decisions regarding your case.
If you or a loved one are facing loitering or prowling charges in the Tampa, FL, area, call Armando Edmiston, an experienced Tampa loitering or prowling criminal defense lawyer, today.
Loitering or Prowling Defined in Tampa, FL
Under Florida law, there are two elements necessary to prove that a person has loitered or prowled in an illegal manner. First, prosecutors must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a defendant loitered or prowled in a manner unusual for a law-abiding person. Second, they must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the loitering or prowling warranted a justifiable concern for public safety. Whether concern is warranted depends on the facts of the situation, including whether the defendant fled when police arrived, whether she refused to identify herself, and whether she tried to conceal herself. By law, police must give suspected offenders the chance to identify themselves and dispel any concern about their presence before making arrests. If police fail to do this, or if the answers given by a defendant are true and by their nature dispel concern about the defendant’s activities, a conviction will not stand. Loitering or prowling is a second-degree misdemeanor, punishable by a maximum of 60 days in jail.
Loitering or Prowling: Child Sex Offenders in Tampa, FL
A special Florida statute makes it a crime for convicted child sex offenders to loiter or prowl within 300 feet of a place where children gather. It is also illegal for child sex offenders to knowingly approach, contact or communicate with anyone younger than 18 at a public park or playground with intent to engage in sexual conduct or make any kind of sexual communication. Likewise, it is a crime for a child sex offender to knowingly be present at a child care facility, primary school or secondary school without written notification and supervision; this does not apply when schools are used as polling places, and it does not apply to parents picking up and dropping off their own children. Loitering or prowling by a child sex offender in close proximity to children is a first-degree misdemeanor punishable by as much as one year in jail.
Loitering or Prowling: Related Crimes in Tampa, FL
There are several similar public-order crimes on the books in Florida. Charges for criminal mischief, also known as vandalism, can range from a second-degree misdemeanor, punishable by at most 60 days, to a third-degree felony with a maximum sentence of five years in prison. The state’s disorderly conduct law punishes fights, brawls and other breaches of the peace, as well as acts that corrupt the public morals, outrage the sense of public decency or affect the peace and quiet of bystanders; it is a second-degree misdemeanor punishable by as many as 60 days. Disorderly intoxication is a crime that covers endangering the safety of other people or their property while intoxicated, as well as drinking or being intoxicated in public and causing a disturbance. This is also a second-degree misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of 60 days.