As protests both peaceful and violent become more and more common in cities across the United States, it might be a good idea to understand in advance the rights one is afforded when taking part in such an activity. Of course, the 1st Amendment protects every citizen’s right to free speech, but knowing how your actions at a protest may have consequences allows you to protect yourself from criminal charges .
Know What is Required of You Before You Attend a Rally or Protest
As stated, the First Amendment protects your right to speak. However, it is not a magic shield that allows you to act without regard for the law. Presented here is a summary of some important facts to help protect yourself:
• Your speech is protected, UNLESS you are on private property. In that case, the owner of the property can set limits and can order you off their property if you violate those limits.
• Picketing and distributing leaflets is fine, but you may not block pedestrians while doing so and you should refrain from aggressive or threatening actions.
• In certain circumstances, a permit may be required for your protest or rally.
• If stopped by police, be calm and cooperative. In some states, you may be required to provide your name, but you do not have to show identification. NEVER put your hands on a law enforcement officer, and keep your hands in plain sight at all times when talking with police.
• If you are arrested, do not resist. Contact a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.
New Law Under Consideration in Illinois
With protests growing in frequency, an Illinois legislator has introduced a bill that would make it illegal to conceal your identity while taking part in a protest. The sponsor indicated a few factors that influenced this action, including:
• A propensity for “masked” protesters, usually in the minority, to instigate violent activity during what might otherwise be a peaceful demonstration.
• The need to prevent masked groups from aggravating situations, such as was the case in protests that took place in other cities.
• The new bill under consideration is modeled after existing laws already in place in Georgia and Virginia in an effort to withstand a Constitutional challenge.
Consult a Knowledgeable Joliet Criminal Defense Lawyer
Actions have consequences. In the event you are charged with a crime while taking part in a rally or protest, it is important to secure the representation of a skilled and experienced Joliet criminal defense attorney to ensure your rights are protected throughout the legal process. The Law Office of Jack L. Zaremba will review every detail of your case and create a strategy that provides for an aggressive and meticulous defense on your behalf. Do not trust your freedom to an inexperienced lawyer.