In Florida, Loitering or Prowling occurs when:
someone is in at a place, during an unusual time, and is acting suspicious enough that there is a concern that a crime is about to be committed or has been committed.

Florida Statute 856.021 reads, “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.”

There are certain circumstances that law enforcement may consider in determining whether such alarm or immediate concern is warranted:

1. If the person takes flight when police show up;

2. If the person refuses to identify themselves; or

3. If the person tries to hide themselves or an object.


Loitering or Prowling is classified as a second-degree misdemeanor punishable as follows:

a. Up to 60 days in jail; or

b. Up to 6 months’ probation; and

c. $500.00 fine


Different defenses are available depending on the facts of the case, however, not every case will have a defense. The defenses can be legal or factual in nature such as:

  • Lawful presence in a place;

  • No imminent threat or attempt to do a crime;

  • Police not present to perceive the unlawful conduct;

  • No opportunity to explain or dispel alarm.

Loitering or Prowling can sometimes be used by law enforcement to justify their detention of a person when no other legitimate reason exists making It extremely important to know your rights.


Charged with loitering or prowling? Contact us today.

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