Does Free Speech Protect Protesters?

Protesting is something we as Americans can identify as an inherent right that the founding fathers of this country advocated. Recently, a protester who laughed during Jeff Sessions’ acceptance speech for Attorney General was charged with unlawful conduct on capital grounds. She is facing up to 12 months in jail and $2000 in fines.  Protesters are allowed to protest in many settings, but how can we decide when protesters are committing crimes? Protesters can be subject to police opposition.

Protesting 101: Questions to Answer Before Getting Started

  • Where can you protest? You can legally protest in most public areas in the US. Streets, sidewalks, and areas in front of Government buildings that are open to the public. You cannot protest on private land.
  • Do you need a permit to protest? The Government can require a permit for certain protesting activities. Permits apply to large protests that will impede vehicle traffic and protests that have many people with different interests and opinions. In most cases, the First Amendment protects protesters who are not impeding sidewalks, vehicle traffic, or aggressively disrupting other people.

What if You Are Stopped by a Police Officer?

  • Stay calm: Acting with aggression is not a good tactic when dealing with police. In a potentially heated setting, like a protest where police are outnumbered, it is easy for an officer to feel threatened, so do not give them a reason to arrest you.
  • Give them your name: Some states require you to give an officer your name, but you may not need to give your I.D. or paperwork. Contacting a local criminal defense attorney can help you know what the protest laws are in your area.

If you feel like your rights were violated, or may have been wrongfully arrested for protesting, you have ways to protect yourself.

Lewisville criminal defense attorneys at Julian, Crowder & Shuster have the knowledge and determination necessary to fight for your protesting rights.



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