Be aware of these six tips to minimize the potential of problems with the law while in Florida.
Know before you go: In 2015, 1,200 criminal charges were filed, just in Panama City Beach area during March. The most common criminal charges in Florida for spring breakers are:
Possession of alcohol by a minor, underage drinking
Disorderly conduct or disorderly public intoxication,
Possession of a controlled substance
Possession of drug paraphernalia
Possession of fake identification (ID)
Resisting arrest with or without violence
Theft, petty theft, larceny, shoplifting, burglary,
Traffic offenses, including speeding, reckless driving, street racing, DUI, and driving without a license
Don’t escalate: If the police show up, cooperating and showing respect can only improve the situation. Trying to show off or stick up for friends, or make a statement for the crowd will only escalate the situation and result in additional charges, like resisting an officer or obstruction of justice.
Marijuana is still illegal: Florida is not Colorado–recreational marijuana is still illegal in the Sunshine State. Overworked Florida police take no pity on the spring break crowd when it comes to possessing drugs or drug paraphernalia, even marijuana. They may even prosecute to the fullest extent of the law.
Flights to Florida add up: If charged with a crime, you will likely have to travel back and forth to be present in the courtroom for sentencing or to enroll in community service, or pay for the damages, if such a diversion program is available. Flights from National or Dulles to Florida can become an expensive legal cost.
A DUI follows you: Beyond the expense, community service and possible loss of license, a spring break DUI will be transmitted to your Virginia driving record, even though it is from another state.
High schoolers lie: Can you tell the difference between a 16 and a 19 year old? Imagine how hard it would be in a party situation. High schoolers in Florida during spring break will lie about their ages to hang out with college kids. The law doesn’t care how old she said she was, just buying an underage girl a drink can be a misdemeanor charge of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. Never mind the extremely serious consequences of taking a minor back to the hotel room.
Be aware of these tips to mitigate serious consequences of mistakes made while on Spring Break. If you do get into legal trouble, give the criminal defense attorneys at Nichols Zauzig Sandler, P.C. a call. We’ll put our experience and legal knowledge to work for your best possible outcome.