Skip to comments.Judge Rules In Favor Of 'Patriotic' Man Arrested For Wearing Army Uniform
Posted on 07/05/2007 3:59:05 PM PDT by stainlessbanner
ORLANDO, Fla. -- A Florida man described as patriotic, who faced prison time for wearing a U.S. Army uniform at Orlando International Airport, won a legal battle Thursday when an Orange County, Fla., judge ruled the state law unconstitutional.
In May, Fernando Montas, who is not a member of the military, was arrested at OIA for violating a state law prohibiting civilians from wearing military clothing.
"My client is patriotic with what is going on overseas and he is proud to be in this country and was basically exercising his First Amendment rights to freedom of speech," Montas' attorney Rajan Joshi said.
Under Florida law, a person could be sent to jail for wearing a military uniform, a part of a uniform or an imitation uniform.
"I was contesting the statute because the statute basically criminalizes innocent behavior," Joshi said. "It criminalizes a kid wearing a Halloween costume and it criminalizes a wife wearing her husband's jacket if he is in the military."
Police said Montas originally lied to airport security, claiming he was U.S. soldier. It is an allegation he denies.
"It is important to note that Montas is not charged with impersonating a solider, only dressing like one," Local 6's Mike DeForest said.
Prosecutors said it is in the interest of public safety that only military personnel be allowed to wear such uniforms.
"I think the law was on our side," Joshi said. "I think the statute my client was being prosecuted under was clearly unconstitutional. It is always a fight when you go into court but I think the judge made a good ruling."
Montas still faces up to a year in jail over a misdemeanor in connection with the case.
"It is up to prosecutors to decide whether they will drop those charges against him or whether they will fight today's ruling," DeForest said.
What an absolutely stupid law.
They BETTER fight this idiotic ruling!
The only problem I have with the ruling is that is based on the First Ammendment right to free speech. It should have been based on the Fifth Ammendment right to Liberty—which is the right to do whatever does not violate the rights of others.
I’m going to start to wear a police officer uniform and walk into restaurants.
Wanna bet I get free meals?
Maybe free donuts...
Used to be con men who would hit up people for a loan dressed as servicemen in airports.
It’s impersonating a soldier and I think there would be real problems there.
One would be bringing dishonor on the USD military by attending Gay Pride parades, being slobbering drunk on the street, etc.
Soldiers are asked to behave in certain ways while in uniform, so this could definitely be a problem.
If I wasn’t at work, I’d post a pic of Fidel Castro in army fatigues.
So this would be illegal?
So, does that mean that the 265,347 Vietnam Era sailors that claim to be ex-SEALS can now speak their claim with impunity? /s
Is the wearing of a uniform sufficient to qualify as "impersonating" a member of the military?
I would think that it would take more then simply wearing a uniform. In this case the man may have said he was in the military, that then would be sufficient to classify as 'impersonation'.
Show me your ID card and dog tags.
We have a retired dude around here that I guess never came home from VN. He wears cammy, combat boots (not shined) and a Marine BDU hat all the time. We just think he’s nuts.Not gonna put him jail until he pulls some shit.
not in my city!
impersonating an officer is not a stupid law. but i dont think this guy stated he was in the military. if you impersonate in order to obtain an advantage, then you should be arrested.
this law wouldn’t work in California from all the reenactors...
Actually, as a FORMER service member, I am entitled to wear my old uniform, for certain occasions.
I certainly don’t have an ID card, though.
The article says that he did, but he disputes that claim.
that’s is why i said i don’t THINK he did. also, he was only charged with dressing like one so i would dispute the claim that he impersonated.
Start wearing a Police uniform around here and you’ll get a few free meals....in jail.
Ulysses S. Grant wore his old Army coat for years after he resigned. Someone asked him why.... “It is not worn out yet.”
When he was named to command a regiment, it was worn out, and it was not until his first payday that he could bespeak a uniform. Later in the war, he had plenty of money, but still wore a private’s uniform, with his shoulder straps.
The celebrated difference between the finery of R.E. Lee and the plain dress of US Grant at Appromatox was partly due to circumstance. Lee was pressed so hard he had to abandon his baggage, and selected his best uniform to wear/keep. Grant was pressing hard, and left his dress uniform(s) behind in his baggage.
Lee wore his uniform for perhaps a week afterwards, until he could get appropriate civilian clothes.
Reenactors of all eras wear uniforms on occasion. Many are veterans, many are not. Obviously, if you are a WWII reenactor and not in your late 70’s or 80’s, you are not a WWII veteran.
Reenactors honor the service of those that have come before, and they keep history alive.
That’s one way to sure tell if someone is active duty, isn’t it? These phonies might be able to talk the lingo but without the metal and ID card, they fall apart.
Things might have changed, but when I was discharged from the USAF, I could still wear all the pieces of my old uniforms, with all rank,military insignia and badges stripped from them, but only as separate pieces, and only one piece at a time.
I can wear my field and flight jackets, but not in combination with fatigue pants.
I can wear my fatigue pants, but not with a fatigue shirt or any unit’s T-Shirt.
I swiftly donated (ditched) my blue uniform elements to an AF base thrift shop.
We have had lots of problems with people in Florida “impersonating” certain government officials.
Namely police and military members.
It seems a fairly common sense based law, to my eyes.
If the intent is to impersonate active duty personnel to defraud, then prosecute for that. Fine.
But to prosecute for simply wearing items available at my local army/navy surplus store is patently absurd.
I agree - but that isn't what he was charged with.
oh i agree. there is a fine line, i guess, between impersonation and simple patriotism. wearing camo is no big deal, but wearing rank emblems and medals might cross the line a little. why wear medals that aren’t yours?
Does your local Army/Navy surplus store sell surplus uniforms with Army or Navy emblems and/or badges sewn on them?
If they do, they are in violation of DOD regulations, and civilian crime laws. FReepmail me the store location, and I will inform them of their regulatory errors.
As a former USAF NCOIC, it often fell to me to remind active duty personnel they were not authorized to “hang out” at the local civilian bars, on their way home off base, in casual work uniforms.
Flight suits and fatigues are no goes, except for grocery stores, banks, gas stations, fast food restaurants that do not serve alcohol, etc...
Florida is a casual clothing state.
But if you are wearing an official looking BATF or FDLE T-shirt in public, you better have a photo ID for a BATF or FDLE division ID card.
We have a law here that clearly states that the simple unauthorized act of wearing certain specified items of official clothing is actionable in and of itself, and the lawyerly legal nicety of having to prove specific separate “intent to deceive” is irrelevant, since intent to deceive is patently obvious in the wearing of the unauthorized clothing, in combination with another crime.