Crimes for Littering

Most people don’t realize that under Florida law, some types of littering can be charged as a crime. In fact, some types of littering can even be charged as a felony.

The felony version of littering is listed on the jail inquiry of the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office website as LITTERING FELONY (MISC0111). Felony littering is charged as a third degree felony, punishable by up to five (5) years in Florida State Prison. The typical bond for felony littering is $2,000, although the court can set the bond at a higher or lower amount.

The agency that investigates environmental crimes, including crimes for felony littering, includes the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). 

Under Florida Statute §403.413(6)(e), the forfeiture of any motor vehicle, vessel, aircraft, container, crane, winch, or machine used to dump litter that exceeds 500 pounds in weight or 100 cubic feet in volume can be seized for civil asset forfeiture.

Attorney for Felony and Misdemeanor Littering in Tampa, FL

If you were charged with any felony or misdemeanor crime for littering, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney at Sammis Law Firm.

Our attorneys fight a variety of environmental crimes in the Tampa Bay Area. At Sammis Law Firm, our attorneys represent individuals and businesses, including any firm, sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, or unincorporated association accused of littering.

Contact us to discuss your case. Call 813-250-0500.

Florida’s Definition of Litter under Section 403.413(2)(f)

In Florida, crimes for littering are found in the Public Health sections of Title XXIX in Chapter 403 for environmental control and in Section 403.413. Under the Florida Litter Law, the term “litter” is defined in Section 403.413(2)(f) to include:

  • aircraft
  • appliance
  • bottle
  • box
  • building or construction material
  • can
  • container
  • both farm machinery and equipment
  • garbage
  • machinery
  • mechanical equipment or part
  • motor vehicle or motor vehicle part
  • paper
  • refuse
  • rubbish
  • tobacco product
  • tire
  • tool
  • trash
  • wood
  • vessel

The term “liter” also includes sludge from a waste treatment facility or water supply treatment plant, or air pollution control facility and substance in any form resulting from domestic, industrial, commercial, mining, agricultural, or governmental operations.

Many of these cases involve dumping litter near a roadway, on public lands, in any waterway, or even on private property.

When litter is dumped on private property, prior consent must be obtained from the owner of the property, and only when the dumping of litter will not cause a public nuisance or otherwise be in violation of any other state or local law, rule, or regulation.

Penalties for Littering in Florida

The penalties for littering might depend on several different factors, including:

  • the weight or volume of waste dumped;
  • the location where the littering incident occurred;
  • whether the littering incident was for commercial purposes; or
  • whether the litter qualifies as hazardous waste.

Any person who dumps litter in an amount not exceeding 15 pounds in weight or 27 cubic feet in volume and not for commercial purposes is guilty of a noncriminal infraction, punishable by a civil penalty of $100.(b)

Any person who dumps litter in an amount exceeding 15 pounds in weight or 27 cubic feet in volume but not exceeding 500 pounds in weight or 100 cubic feet in volume and not for commercial purposes is guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree.

Furthermore, suppose the violation involves the use of a motor vehicle, upon a finding of guilt, whether or not adjudication is withheld or whether the imposition of sentence is withheld, deferred, or suspended. In that case, the court shall forward a record of the finding to the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, which shall record a penalty of three points on the violator’s driver license under the point system established by s. 322.27.

Any person who dumps litter in an amount exceeding 500 pounds in weight or 100 cubic feet in volume or in any quantity for commercial purposes, or dumps litter which is a hazardous waste as defined in s. 403.703, is guilty of a felony of the third degree.

For any felony littering offense, the court may order the violator to:

  • Remove or render harmless the litter that he or she dumped in violation of this section;
  • Repair or restore property damaged by, or pay damages for any damage arising out of, his or her dumping litter in violation of this section; or
  • Perform public service relating to removing litter dumped in violation of this section or restoring an area polluted by litter dumped in violation of this section.

Restitution for Felony Littering Crimes in Florida

If a person sustains damages arising from a violation of this section that is punishable as a felony, a court, in a civil action for such damages, shall order the person to pay the injured party threefold the actual damages or $200, whichever amount is greater.

In addition, the court shall order the person to pay the injured party’s court costs and attorney’s fees.

A final judgment rendered in a criminal proceeding against a defendant under this section estops the defendant from asserting any issue in a subsequent civil action under this paragraph which he or she would be estopped from asserting if such judgment were rendered in the civil action unless the criminal judgment was based upon a plea of no contest or nolo contendere.

Any person who dumps raw human waste from any train, aircraft, motor vehicle, or vessel upon the public or private lands or waters of the state is guilty of a misdemeanor of the second degree, provided, however, that any person who dumps more than 500 pounds or more than 100 cubic feet of raw human waste, or who dumps any quantity of such waste for commercial purposes, is guilty of a felony of the third degree.

This article was last updated on Friday, May 26, 2023.