Due to the increasing frequency with which looting and rioting take place in the Sunshine State, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis proposed and passed Combatting Violence, Disorder and Looting and Law Enforcement Protection Act. This act creates new criminal offenses for looting, rioting and violence as well as enhances penalties for existing crimes that occur at certain times.
Given that Florida is often in a state of turmoil, especially during hurricane season, it is crucial that individuals understand the state’s new laws. MyFlorida provides an overview of the new protection act.
New criminal offenses to combat looting
Per MyFlorida, the act creates five new crimes. Acts that are crimes when certain circumstances are present are as follows:
- Violent or disorderly assemblies of seven or more persons
- Obstructing roadways during an unpermitted demonstration, protest, or violent or disorderly assembly; eliminates liability for drivers who injure or kill persons when attempting to flee for safety from a mob
- Toppling or destroying monuments during a violent or disorderly assembly
- Harassing or intimidating others as a participant in a violent or disorderly assembly
- Funding or organizing a violent or disorderly protest or assembly
As of 2020, Florida law deems these acts illegal.
Enhanced penalties for more severe crimes
The Combatting Violence, Disorder and Looting and Law Enforcement Protection Act makes certain crimes more severe when they occur during violent or disorderly assemblies. One such crime is striking a law enforcement officer. If a person does this during an assembly, he or she may face a mandatory minimum jail sentence of six months. Other enhanced crimes include assault and/or battery of a law enforcement officer, throwing a police officer or participating in a violent or disorderly assembly as a non-Florida resident.
It is important to understand state laws, particularly as they pertain to looting and rioting. By understanding laws, you can better protect your rights.