Police charged ten people with rioting and looting during the George Floyd protests. The last of the felony cases was recently resolved. Cristian Milete was charged with felony aggravated assault for throwing a rock at a police officer during a May 31 protest.
The charges were resolved when prosecutors agreed to a pre-trial diversion program. Milete must remain out of trouble for the next two years, but if he does, the charges will be dropped. Milete was charged with attempted battery on a police officer and resisting arrest without violence.
One wrench in the works is that the defendant must write a letter of apology to the police officer, who then must approve the deal. If the police officer does not approve the deal, the defendant may still face charges for attempted battery on a police officer.
Felony Charges in George Floyd Protests
Perhaps wanting animosity concerning law enforcement to go away, state prosecutors have been dropping charges related to the George Floyd protests all over the country. Here in Florida, the three felony arrests that were made were all either reduced or defendants were allowed to accept pre-trial diversion programs.
Another felony arrest was made of a 52-year-old man who was charged with inciting a riot, resisting arrest with violence, and disorderly conduct. He was sentenced to 18 months of probation. Another man, 20 years old, was also charged with inciting a riot and throwing debris at police officers. He was offered a similar pre-trial diversion. Felony charges were dropped against two other defendants.
Florida’s Riot Statute
Florida has a small riot statute that makes it a crime to incite, participate, or otherwise aid and abet a riot. In each case, the penalty is a 3rd-degree felony with a maximum sentence of 5 years. However, Florida’s riot statute has a second part. It identifies an “affray” as a type of disorderly conduct in which two individuals start a ruckus that leads to the “terror” of the people. An affray occurs in a public space and is defined as a kind of mutual combat that causes alarm. Causing an affray is less serious than inciting a riot, and is only charged as a misdemeanor. However, since there must be some kind of assault or battery, causing an affray is usually a tacked-on charge.
Florida’s riot statute is vague. Persons charged under the statute must be found guilty of incitement, encouragement, or participation in the riot. Since what constitutes participation is left to the discretion of police, prosecutors have broad discretion when it comes to charging defendants under the statute. That being said, incitement of a riot is very rarely charged in Florida and the George Floyd protests provide the only recent examples of Floridians being charged under the statute.
Talk to a West Palm Beach Criminal Defense Attorney
If your fight club got out of hand, you may be charged with an affray in Florida. Call a West Palm Beach criminal attorney at The Skier Law Firm, P.A. today to learn more about how we can help.