Littering Charges in Orlando

Florida’s ecosystem is fragile, but residents and visitors can protect the environment by disposing of all waste properly. Litter is not just unsightly, it could harm the environment, including protected species, and poison the water. Local governments have enacted strict laws against littering.

If you face littering charges in Orlando, it might not seem like a big deal. However, littering is a crime, and a conviction could have an impact on your future. Contact a local defense attorney if you find yourself facing this charge.

The Litter Law Explained

The anti-littering law appears in Florida Statute § 403.413. It prohibits anyone from disposing of any quantity of trash in the following areas:

  • On public roads or thoroughfares, except in trash receptacles placed there for that purpose
  • In or on any stream, river, canal, lake, or coastal waterway
  • In or on private property unless the owner gives permission, and it will not cause a public nuisance

Litter can be any personal or household trash or commercial waste. Tossing a cigarette butt out the car window is littering under this statute and so is dumping many pounds of agricultural waste.

The severity of a littering charge depends on the quantity of waste a person allegedly dumped and whether commercial purposes led to the dumping. “Commercial purposes” means the alleged litterer dumped the trash to avoid paying for its proper disposal. Any quantity or kind of trash dumped for commercial purposes could lead to significant penalties.

Littering Penalties Can Be Significant

A littering offense could be an infraction, misdemeanor, or felony. Regardless of the severity of the littering charge, an Orlando attorney could be sure you understand the potential consequences and strive to minimize them.

Infraction

Someone who litters trash weighing less than15 pounds or with a volume that does not exceed 27 cubic feet for non-commercial purposes commits an infraction, rather than a criminal offense. If convicted, the litterer must pay a fine of up to $150.

Misdemeanor

It is a first-degree misdemeanor to dump waste for non-commercial purposes if the litter weighs between 15 and 500 pounds, or its volume is between 27 and 100 cubic feet. A violator’s sentence could include probation, a $1,000 fine, and up to one year in jail. An offender also must clean up the waste they dumped or perform community service.

Felony

A person dumping more than 500 pounds of waste by weight or more than 100 cubic feet by volume commits a third-degree felony. Dumping any quantity of litter for commercial purposes is also a felony. Someone convicted on this charge faces up to five years in prison, a $5,000 fine, and probation for five years. They also must:

  • Remove the material they dumped or engage in mitigating measures to render it harmless
  • Restore the property they damaged through dumping or pay damages to offset the harm it caused
  • Perform community service related to restoring property they harmed

Littering for commercial purposes requires an intent to avoid the cost of proper disposal. A defense attorney could raise a defendant’s lack of intent to defeat a felony littering charge. Sometimes littering charges arise out of misunderstandings or a mistake, and depending on the circumstances, a prosecutor could be willing to reduce or dismiss a misdemeanor littering charge.

Littering from Your Car Could Have Secondary Consequences

Most people have tossed something out of their car window at some point in their life. Although it is commonplace, it is still littering, subject to the penalties described above. However, there are additional potential consequences when a suspect uses a vehicle to litter.

If someone is charged with misdemeanor littering, the police will report the citation to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). The DMV will consider the littering a moving violation and assess three points to the suspect’s driver’s license.

When someone faces commercial littering charges, the police can impound the vehicle, and it could be subject to forfeiture. Losing a vehicle could cause extreme hardship if the individual needs the vehicle for their job or family lifestyle.

Contact an Orlando Attorney if You Face Littering Charges

Littering happens in various situations, and it is not always planned or intentional. Regardless, the consequences could be harsh if the amount of trash is substantial. If you face littering charges in Orlando, you must take them seriously. Call our team for advice today.

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