Tallahassee Sets Out Sites for Christmas Trees and Boxes to be Recylcled

December 30, 2022 Criminal Defense

Once the festivities are over, it can be hard to figure out how to get rid of your once beautiful Christmas tree. Not to mention, that most of us end up with tons of boxes once the Christmas presents are opened and it can be hard to know how to deal with them.

Some people like to save their boxes and others may even try to find a new use for their old tree. Whatever you choose to do, be aware of the dangers that can come from illegally disposing of your leftover holiday items as well as some dangers from leaving them out on the curb.

This article will cover a recent news statement by the City of Tallahassee on three sites they have opened for the holidays to recycle old Christmas trees and cardboard, as well as go over some possible penalties and dangers.

Tallahassee’s Recent News Release

On December 21st, the City of Tallahassee announced there would not be any changes this holiday season to their Garbage and Recycling Collection services but that due to some concerns they would be opening three recycling sites for live-cut Christmas trees and cardboard boxes.

The city is encouraging residents to set their collection bins behind the curb the night before their service day and to make sure that the bins are returned to the home no later than the day after collection. Bulky items and yard waste should be placed behind the curb the weekend before your collection. For more information you can contact the City of Tallahassee Utilities at (850) 891-4968.

The city advises that residents should keep in mind that boxes help advertise to would-be criminals of any fancy new items when they are riding through their neighborhood. Similarly, dry Christmas trees can pose a fire hazard if left unattended.

In an effort to increase public safety, starting Friday, December 23th, the city has set up three different recycling sites in the following communities to help them dispose of their Christmas trees and cardboard boxes:

  • Tom Brown Park (443 Easterwood Drive),
  • San Luis Mission Park (1313 San Luis Road), and
  • Myers Park (1206 Myers Park Drive).

City officials are asking their residents to please remove their decorations from the Christmas trees before bringing them to be recycled. Once the trees are processed, they will be turned into mulch to later use in Tallahassee’s parks.

Animal Services will be open from 10 am to 3 pm on New Year’s Eve and will be closed on New Year’s Day. If you need any additional information, you can visit their site here.

The City-run Community Centers will be closed from December 31st to January 2nd. For any more information, you can visit their site here.

Criminal Sanctions for Littering in Florida

Most people in Florida understand that throwing trash onto our streets is not only frowned upon and an environmental concern but also a violation of the law. Most people don’t know the legal consequences of illegally dumping trash.

Under Florida Statute Section 403.413, also known as “Florida Litter Law,” the legislation has criminalized the dumping of litter in any manner or amount in our State. This includes:

  • On any public highway, road, street, alley, or thoroughfare.
  • On any freshwater lake, river, canal, stream, tidal or coastal water of the state.
  • And on any private property, unless consent is given by the owner and the dumping does not constitute a public nuisance or a violation of other laws or rules.

Similarly, any human waste that is dumped from any train, aircraft, motor vehicle, or vessel onto public or private lands, or waters of the state is punishable.

Under Section 403.413, litter encompasses any garbage; rubbish; trash; refuse; can; bottle; box; container; paper; tobacco product; tire; appliance; mechanical equipment or part; building or construction material; tool; machinery; wood; motor vehicle or motor vehicle part; amongst many other items. Under this broad definition, it is easy to see how cardboard boxes and dry Christmas trees could be considered litter if improperly disposed.

What are the Penalties?

The penalties for violating Florida’s Litter Law depend on the amount of trash being dumped. If a person dumps items weighing less than 15 pounds or taking up less than 27 cubic feet, they are guilty of a noncriminal infraction. This can result in a civil penalty of $150.00 and the court can require the violator to pick up litter or perform community service at an approved location.

If a person dumps litter in excess of 15 pounds in weight or in excess of 27 cubic feet in volume, they are guilty of a first-degree misdemeanor. This charge is based on the litter not exceeding 500 pounds or 100 cubic feet.

If a person dumps litter in excess of 500 pounds in weight or 100 cubic feet in volume or dumps any quantity for commercial purposes or dumps litter that can be considered hazardous waste, they are guilty of a third-degree felony. A third- degree felony is punishable by a $5,000 fine and 5 years probation.

In addition to the penalties listed above, the court may also order the violator to:

  • Remove or render harmless the litter dumped.
  • Repair or restore property damaged by, or pay damages for any damage arising out of the litter dumped; or
  • Perform public service relating to the removal of litter dumped or to the restoration of an area polluted by the litter dumped.

If these penalties did not seem harsh enough, keep in mind that unlike most criminal charges, the prosecution does not have the burden of proving that the accused did not have the right or authority to dump the litter or trash. The burden rests on the defendant to prove that they had the right or the authority to dump the litter or trash and that the litter did not cause a public nuisance.

Finding a Defense Attorney in Tallahassee, Florida

Even if it seems like a minor violation, dumping your old Christmas tree or cardboard boxes on the side of the highway, or a deserted area can earn you some serious criminal sanctions. If you or a loved one are facing criminal charges for illegally dumping trash, make sure to be informed of your rights and zealously fight for a train and experienced Tallahassee criminal defense attorney.

The right legal advice can be the difference between jail and freedom. Don Pumphrey and his team at Pumphrey Law Firm have the skill and experience to protect your rights and fight for your freedom. Call (850) 681-7777 or send an online message today and receive a free consultation regarding your case.      

Written by Jesus Lozano

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