MIAMI BEACH, Fla. – Miami Beach has a municipal prosecution team that focuses on ordinance violations. Commissioner Steven Meiner criticized the team for dropping cases and he wants it to stop.
Meiner said 92% of municipal ordinance charges — 383 out of 418 cases — were dismissed in the last year. According to the city’s legal staff, the pandemic is to blame.
“Things have pretty much gone back to normal and that number has not changed. We’re seeing still a revolving door of arrests and immediate dismissal,” Meiner said.
The most common cases are for violations of the ordinances prohibiting the possession of an open container of alcohol, smoking marijuana or hemp in public, conducting business on public property, and urinating or defecating in public.
“Prosecuting the case does not mean the person will necessarily do jail time,” Meiner said. “It just means there was a legitimate arrest and there are some consequences. Whether it be some training program, whether it be a fine, but there are some consequences to the crime other than outright dismissal.”
Meiner said he is working on a legislative initiative to direct the city’s special prosecutor to not drop cases and to appeal the judges’ dismissals if the defendant has a criminal record. Meiner said he plans to have it ready by Wednesday’s commission meeting.