FLORIDA, UNITED STATES – On Monday Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced the ‘Combatting Violence, Disorder, and Law Enforcement Protection Act’. The proposed legislation includes new criminal offenses and increases penalties for individuals involved in violent or disorderly assemblies.
At the press conference Monday, Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said, “Protesting is a basic constitutional right of free speech, which I wholeheartedly support.”
“Violence, rioting, looting, and vandalism are illegal acts – not rights. Nothing else matters if you and your children aren’t safe. Crime is at a 48-year-low in the state of Florida, and we intend to keep it that way. Criminals who destroy and tear down our communities and victimize others must be held accountable through quick action and swift punishment. We are sending a message that we will not sit back and allow violence to run amuck, and we will arrest violent criminals, and those who loot, riot, and vandalize – guaranteed. I applaud Governor DeSantis’ initiative to ensure that the safety of Florida residents and visitors comes first,” said Judd.
“It’s my honor to stand in support with Governor DeSantis today,” said Florida Sheriffs Association President and Gilchrist County Sheriff Bobby Schultz. “I’m thankful Governor DeSantis is supplying public safety tools to help ensure that our communities and residents are protected.”
The Combatting Violence, Disorder and Looting and Law Enforcement Protection Act has three components, outlined below:
New Criminal Offenses to Combat Rioting, Looting and Violence
- Prohibition on Violent or Disorderly Assemblies: 3rd degree felony when 7 or more persons are involved in an assembly and cause damage to property or injury to other persons.
- Prohibition on Obstructing Roadways: 3rd degree felony to obstruct traffic during an unpermitted protest, demonstration or violent or disorderly assembly; driver is NOT liable for injury or death caused if fleeing for safety from a mob.
- Prohibition on Destroying or Toppling Monuments: 2nd degree felony to destroy public property during a violent or disorderly assembly.
- Prohibition on Harassment in Public Accommodations: 1st degree misdemeanor for a participant in a violent or disorderly assembly to harass or intimidate a person at a public accommodation, such as a restaurant.
- RICO Liability: RICO liability attaches to anyone who organizes or funds a violent or disorderly assembly.
- Mandatory Minimum Jail Sentence: Striking a law enforcement officer (including with a projectile) during a violent or disorderly assembly = 6 months mandatory minimum jail sentence.
- Offense Enhancements: Offense and/or sentence enhancements for: (1) throwing an object during a violent or disorderly assembly that strikes a civilian or law enforcement officer; (2) assault/battery of a law enforcement officer during a violent or disorderly assembly; and (3) participation in a violent or disorderly assembly by an individual from another state.
Citizen and Taxpayer Protection Measures
- No “Defund the Police” Permitted: Prohibits state grants or aid to any local government that slashes the budget for law enforcement services.
- Victim Compensation: Waives sovereign immunity to allow a victim of a crime related to a violent or disorderly assembly to sue local government for damages where the local government is grossly negligent in protecting persons and property.
- Government Employment/Benefits: Terminates state benefits and makes anyone ineligible for employment by state/local government if convicted of participating in a violent or disorderly assembly.
- Bail: No bond or bail until first appearance in court if charged with a crime related to participating in a violent or disorderly assembly; rebuttable presumption against bond or bail after first appearance.