What Criminal Justice Bills Passed the 2024 Florida Legislative Session?

April 9, 2024 Criminal Defense, News & Announcements

With the recent ending of the 2024 Florida Legislative Session, a portion of the criminal justice bills introduced have passed. Once Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signs the legislation into the law, it will go into effect later this year.

This page will provide information on the legislative session as well as listing several criminal justice bills that made it through the session.

Florida Legislative Session

Each year, the Florida legislator (collective group of lawmakers) meet for a certain amount of time to review and decide on proposed bills. Both the House and the Senate convene for sixty (60) consecutive days. According to the Florida Senate, a regular legislative session takes place on the first Tuesday in March of every odd-numbered year, and on the second Tuesday in March of every even-numbered year.

The Florida Senate further explains that proposals can come in the form of bills, resolutions, joint resolutions, or memorials. A bill proposal is a proposed law, which can either create a general impact across the state, or a “local bill” that would impact a certain city, county, or town outlined in such bill. Unless otherwise provided in the Constitution, bills require a majority vote as well as the Florida Governor’s signing to officially pass into law.

Florida’s 2024 Legislative Session took place from February 9, 2024, to March 8, 2024. There were over 1,900 bills filed within both the Florida House and Senate during the last two months. While only a portion of the bills have passed through the Legislative Session, it is important to address which bills affect criminal justice and can impose new penalties for alleged offenders in Florida.

DeSantis’ “Law and Order” Accomplishments

According to a press release by Gov. Ron DeSantis’ office, the following “law and order” changes have been made through the 2024 Legislative Session:

Raising the retail threshold for grand retail theft

HB 549 amends Florida Statute Section 812.14 to lower the threshold for a first-degree misdemeanor petit theft offense if the property stolen is valued at less than $40 and is taken from a dwelling. It also lowers the threshold for a third-degree felony theft offense from $100 to $40 if the item or property is stolen from a dwelling. Makes it a second-degree felony if an item or property is stolen from more than 20 dwellings or a combination thereof. A person charged with a theft crime after previously been convicted of any other theft crime will be charged with a third-degree felony.

Creating the offense and penalties for Lewd and Lascivious Grooming

HB 1135 creates Florida Statute Section 800.045 to define “inappropriate communication or conduct” as any verbal, written, or electronic communication or any conduct where a person describes, depicts, or demonstrates sexual conduct or excitement. The new statute makes it a third-degree felony for any person 18 years or older who engages in a pattern of inappropriate communication or conduct, with a lewd or lascivious intent, that is directed towards a person less than 16-years-old for the purpose of preparing, encouraging, or enticing the, to engage in any unlawful sexual activity, conduct, or performance.

Protecting disabled and elderly citizens from schemes to defraud

HB 1171 has reclassified certain offenses committed against elderly (65+) individuals, disabled individuals, and minors. Florida Statute Section 817.034 is amended to provide that the penalty for a Scheme to Defraud committed against a person 65+, a minor, or a person with a mental or physical disability is reclassified to the next highest degree.

Prohibiting and penalizing homeless camping

HB 1365 has created Florida Statute Section 125.0231 to prohibit homeless individuals from camping or sleeping on public property and requiring counties to establish specified standards and procedures relating to such property. Allows civil action to be brought against the county or municipality for violating these terms.

Increasing penalties for the exposure of fentanyl or other deadly substances to law enforcement or first responders

HB 231 creates Florida Statute Section 893.132 to provide that a person 18 or older who, in the course of unlawfully possessing dangerous fentanyl or fentanyl analogues, exposes a first responder or law enforcement officer to such substance and results in an overdose or serious bodily injury results in a second-degree felony.

The press release also mentions adding “legal penalties for those who incite mobs or looting through social media.” While we did not find this specific language in any proposed bill, Gov. DeSantis replaced the vetoed HB 1 with HB 3 on protecting certain minors from certain social media platforms. HB 3 creates Florida Statute Section 501.1736 to require platforms to prohibit minors under 14 from creating new accounts and deleting existing accounts from certain minors.

An exemption added to HB 3 is that minors between 14 and 15 can continue to use social media platforms with their parent’s consent. As of now, HB 3 only allows civil action to be brought against any platforms that violate the law. The bill text does not mention inciting mobs or looting through social media. The bill text also does not specify which social media platforms will be banned.

You can find out more information regarding Florida bills here.

Importance of Top-Quality Criminal Defense

With new criminal justice bills passing into law, it is important for individuals to understand their rights and legal options if they are accused of a criminal offense. You should always try to remain calm if apprehended by police. Before speaking to anyone, consider hiring a criminal defense lawyer in Tallahassee for legal representation. The benefits of obtaining quality legal counsel are paramount to a criminal case. Attorneys with Pumphrey Law can review case details and establish any potential defense strategies. We may advise using an expert witness to support your case. Our goal is to provide you with top-quality defense to get your charge(s) lessened to a lower offense or dismissed completely.

Contact Pumphrey Law Firm

If you or someone you love has recently been charged with a crime in the Florida Panhandle, contact Pumphrey Law Firm. Our lawyers have decades of combined experience defending those wrongfully accused of a crime. We can provide you with a free consultation when you contact our office at (850) 681-7777 or fill out our online form.

We represent those in need of criminal defense in Leon County, Liberty County, Wakulla County, Jefferson County, and Gadsden County

Back to Top