Loitering and Prowling
What is the crime of loitering and prowling?
The crime of loitering and prowling is the crime that says, “we know you were up to no good but we don’t really know what you were doing.” If you are arrested and charged under the loitering and prowling statutes, you have a lot of strong defenses to your case, simply because of the inefficiencies in the legislature’s and the court’s requirements to prove the offense.
Elements of Loitering and Prowling:
In order to prove loitering and prowling, the state is required to show two things. Per G.G. v. State, 903 So.2d 1031 (Fla 4th DCA 2005): “(1) That the arresting officer observed the Defendant loitering and prowling in a manner not usual for law-abiding citizens….(2) The second element requires the arresting officer to articulate specific facts which, when ‘taken together with rational inferences from those facts, reasonably warrant a finding that a breach of the peace if imminent or the public safety is threatened.’ Circumstances to be considered in determining whether a breach of the peace is imminent or public safety is threatened are whether the person takes flight, refuses to identify himself, or attempts to conceal himself or an object.
Case Study on Loitering and Prowling:
In G.G. v. State the Defendant was a juvenile. An officer observed the Defendant holding a brick, walking from behind a shopping plaza at 3:45AM in the morning. Upon noticing the cop car, the Defendant ran for roughly 10-15 seconds. The Officer gave chase and caught them. Once they were caught, the juveniles stopped. The Officer asked for the juveniles names and the juveniles replied with false names. The juveniles then later told the officer the truth, revealing their correct names.
The 4th District Court of Appeals stated that this was insufficient evidence to establish loitering and prowling. The 4th DCA went on to quote several cases where the evidence of loitering and prowling was sufficient, stating that where the facts actually show incipient behavior (in other words, the beginning of a crime), that’s when you have loitering and prowling. Court went on to say that two kids running and holding a brick at 3:45 AM would definitely give rise to an alarm and quite suspicious. But it’s not enough evidence to establish the beginning of a crime. Therefore, the facts were insufficient and the Defendant should have been found not guilty.