Florida bills encourage civil citations instead of criminal charges for some misdemeanors

Two bills meant to encourage local communities and educational institutions to implement civil citation programs for certain misdemeanor offenses (instead of criminal charges) are making their way through the legislature. This analysis (read here) discusses the intent, potential benefits, and financial impact of the legislation.

CS/SB618 is sponsored by Senator Greg Evers, and a similar House Bill (HB 1031) is sponsored by Representatives Costello and Edwards

According to the current proposed legislation, misdemeanor offenses that qualify for a prearrest diversion program include, but are not limited to:

(a) Disorderly conduct.
(b) Nondomestic assault as defined in s. 784.011 or nondomestic battery as provided in s. 784.03(1).
(c) Open house parties.
(d) Petit theft of stolen property valued at less than $50.
(e) Possession of alcohol by a person younger than 21 years of age.
(f) Possession of 20 grams or less of cannabis.
(g) Selling or providing alcoholic beverages to a minor.
(h) Trespass in structure or conveyance.

Here is a short summary:

CS/SB 618 Prearrest Diversion Programs

Prearrest Diversion Programs: Encouraging local communities and public or private educational institutions to implement prearrest diversion programs for certain offenders; requiring that the programs allow law enforcement officers of participating agencies, at their sole discretion, to issue civil citations to adults under specified circumstances; prohibiting the issuance of civil citations if the misdemeanor offense involves a victim and he or she objects to its issuance, etc.

Read and follow the Senate bill (CS/SB618).

Read and follow the House bill (HB 1031).

Florida Statute 985.12 provides for juvenile “civil citation alternative programs” and 985.155 provides for juvenile “neighborhood restorative justice programs.” Several counties are currently using “adult citation programs” modeled after the juvenile programs. For example, several large Florida counties including Miami-Dade, Broward, West Palm Beach and others have passed ordinances giving local law enforcement the option of issuing civil citations for marijuana possession instead of charging an individual with a crime.

Florida Statutes also allow for alternative methods of resolving a case without conviction, including “deferred prosecution” and “pretrial diversion or intervention.

Florida Statute 125.69 addresses the prosecution of county ordinance violations in the same manner as for misdemeanors. Florida Statute 162.21 addresses enforcement of county or municipal codes.


Florida communities are rethinking marijuana arrests

Miami-Dade adopts $100 fine for pot possession

Gaining ground in Florida: Fines instead of criminal court for pot

New County Law Allows Option of Civil Citation for Misdemeanor Marijuana Possession

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