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What to Do if You Are Arrested At a Protest

Posted in Criminal Defense on July 23, 2020

On May 25th, 2020, George Floyd was killed in Minneapolis during an arrest for allegedly using a counterfeit bill. The police officers involved in the arrest of George Floyd have all been arrested themselves and charged with various offenses, including murder. The death of George Floyd sparked some of the largest civil rights protests that this country has seen in decades. In major cities across the country, protesters gathered day after day and night after night. However, many protesters were arrested by law enforcement officials. If you or somebody you care about is planning to attend a protest, or if you have been arrested while attending a protest, you need to know your rights and where to turn for help.

What are Your Rights at a Protest?

Being arrested at a protest may not seem like a big deal, but the reality is that these arrests can have dramatic effects on those who have been detained and face charges. Aside from any possible First Amendment violations, an arrest can lead to a person losing their job, facing jail time, and incurring significant fines.

  • Your rights are strongest when you protest in areas that are considered “traditional public forums.” This can include sidewalks, public parks, and streets. You can also usually protest in front of government buildings, so long as you are not blocking any access of official government business.
  • Private property owners are allowed to set the rules for speech on their property. So long as you are on private property with the consent of the property owner, the government cannot restrict your speech.
  • Counterprotesters also have the right to free speech at protests. Police are required to treat protesters and counterprotesters equally. Police can keep groups separated, but they should allow them to be within sight and sound of one another.
  • Protesters are allowed to take photographs or videos of anything in plain sight when they are on public property, including of law enforcement officials and federal buildings. Private property owners are allowed to set rules related to video or photography.
  • You generally do not need a permit to march in the street or on sidewalks, so long as marches do not obstruct pedestrian or vehicle traffic. If you do not have a permit, police will generally be permitted to ask you to move to the side of the street or sidewalk so others can pass.

Get Legal Help

If you or somebody you care about has been arrested had a protest, please contact an experienced Riverside criminal lawyer. We are available to help clients who have been arrested in various areas throughout California. Our team of knowledgeable and experienced attorneys will conduct a complete investigation into your case in order to determine whether you were lawfully arrested. If you or a loved one have been arrested at a protest:

  • Write down everything you remember about the incident, including a police officer’s badge or patrol car number and the agency they work for.
  • Get the names and contact information of any eyewitnesses to the incident.
  • Take photographs of any injuries you incur.

Our goal will be to get the charges against you reduced or dismissed altogether. When you need a California protest attorney, you can contact us for a consultation on your case by clicking here or by calling as soon as possible.