Jacksonville Loitering or Prowling Lawyer
Loitering or Prowling
Loitering or Prowling is a crime in Florida that is often charged by law enforcement when someone is in an area and the police think that person is going to commit a burglary or some other crime, but have no actual evidence of any crime. Police officers often charge this crime when there is no factual basis to obtain a conviction and when the citizen is engaged in lawful, constitutionally protected conduct. Call the experienced Jacksonville criminal defense lawyer of LGL to discuss your loitering or prowling case.
Loitering or Prowling is extremely ambiguous. As a practical matter, this statute is typically used by law enforcement to arrest someone who is engaged in suspicious conduct. For example, an officer might arrest someone for loitering or prowling if he was standing near a convenience store after hours and looking around suspiciously, or for walking in-between residential houses in a neighborhood he doesn't live in during late hours of the night. Typically, an officer will have the lawful authority to detain the person only long enough for the person to give a reasonable explanation of what they are doing. Whether the officer was justified in detaining you is a legal question and a criminal defense attorney can file a motion to dismiss to challenge the officer's detention of you.
Some of the circumstances that the courts have held may cause alarm and immediate concern to support a loitering or prowling conviction are:
- fleeing when you see a law enforcement officer
- refusing to identify yourself
- attempting to conceal yourself or an object.
Unless you flee or there is some other reasonable reason why the police officer can't ask you what you are doing, the law requires the officer to afford you the opportunity to dispel any alarm or immediate concern by identifying yourself and explaining your presence and conduct.
Loitering or Prowling is a Second Degree Misdemeanor, punishable by up to 60 days in jail. Call the LGL criminal defense lawyers to discuss other potential options in your case. For example, a criminal defense lawyer may be able to convince a prosecutor that the arrest should not have been made or that they will not be able to prove the case which could result in the prosecutor dropping the charges. Other possible outcomes could be a pretrial diversion program, probation, court costs, and more.
The most common defense to Loitering and Prowling is that your conduct did not rise to the level that warranted justifiable and reasonable alarm or immediate concern for the safety of people or property. Many people are arrested for Loitering or Prowling for simply standing around. They may be prejudged or profiled because of the way they look or how they dress. The actions or conduct the officer thought rose to the level of alarm often are actions of a person minding their own business and not engaged in any criminal conduct. Give our experienced Jacksonville criminal defense attorney a call to discuss the options in your Loitering or Prowling case.
State v. Ecker, 311 So.2d 104 (Fla. 1975) - In Ecker, the Florida Supreme Court laid out the elements of a loitering and prowling offense. The Court determined that the State must prove (1) that the defendant loitered or prowled in a place, at a time, or in a manner that is not usual for law abiding people, and (2) that the loitering and prowling was under circumstances that justified alarm or immediate concern for the safety of people or property in the area. The Court noted that a law enforcement officer must be able to articulate specific facts to establish the officer's reasonable concern.
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