Umatilla, FL asked in Criminal Law and Civil Rights for Florida

Q: Looking for Fl legal definition of loiter & prowl, most arrests by far do not meet common definition for either word

I see many 843.03 arrests and read the reports, while few seem to meet the general definition, most by far do not meet the definitions found for either word, so what is and where is it written the FL legal definition of loiter and prowl, surely this is not a statute of undefined words intended to violate a citizen? or if it is, why is no one doing anything about it? From what I see in arrest cases, if you are waiting for Uber at the street you can be arrested for loitering, if you are walking down the side walk in daylight wearing reflective clothing you can be arrested for prowling if a LEO decides he wants to arrest you. What prerequisites are required for LEO to lawfully arrest for 843.03 violations? What is and where is it written the Fl legal definition of loiter & prowl?

common definitions - Prowl- move around restlessly and stealthily,

loiter-to move slowly around or stand in a public place without an obvious reason-to remain in an area for no obvious reason

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1 Lawyer Answer
Terrence H Thorgaard
Terrence H Thorgaard
  • Freeeport, FL
  • Licensed in Florida

A: You have referred to the wrong statute. Florida Statute 856.021 Loitering or prowling; penalty.—reads as follows:

"1) It is unlawful for any person to loiter or prowl in a place, at a time or in a manner not usual for law-abiding individuals, under circumstances that warrant a justifiable and reasonable alarm or immediate concern for the safety of persons or property in the vicinity.

(2) Among the circumstances which may be considered in determining whether such alarm or immediate concern is warranted is the fact that the person takes flight upon appearance of a law enforcement officer, refuses to identify himself or herself, or manifestly endeavors to conceal himself or herself or any object. Unless flight by the person or other circumstance makes it impracticable, a law enforcement officer shall, prior to any arrest for an offense under this section, afford the person an opportunity to dispel any alarm or immediate concern which would otherwise be warranted by requesting the person to identify himself or herself and explain his or her presence and conduct. No person shall be convicted of an offense under this section if the law enforcement officer did not comply with this procedure or if it appears at trial that the explanation given by the person is true and, if believed by the officer at the time, would have dispelled the alarm or immediate concern.

(3) Any person violating the provisions of this section shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of thesecond degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083."

Subsection (2) may provide hints as to which forms of loitering and prowling can be prosecuted as crimes.

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