Restriction or Retaliation Against Free Speech and First Amendment Rights
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
~ U.S. Constitution, Amendment I
What is “Free Speech”?
The First Amendment protects your right to express your opinion, even if it’s unpopular, critical or offensive to some. You may criticize the President, the Congress, or the chief of police without fear of retaliation. But this right doesn’t extend to libel, slander, obscenity, “true threats,” or speech that incites imminent violence or law-breaking. As the ACLU notes, “If you grab a megaphone during a riot and yell “shoot the cop” or “loot the shop,” you may reasonably expect trouble.”
Free Speech starts with Proper Preparation
You may need a permit. You need to know what not to say. You need to make sure you have safeguards in place to prevent things from getting out of hand. You need to not give law enforcement the ammunition to claim they felt threatened or that the community was in harm’s way.
It may be your goal to get arrested through civil disobedience. We have handled those cases, too. It is better to have a lawyer, bail bondsman and a proper team to help you before you get arrested. We handled a Jacksonville case called the JAX19, where protesters shut down a bridge and all were arrested. It’s certainly can send a powerful message, but make sure you are doing things to make sure your message is going to achieve the results you want.
At the point of arrest and after arrest, things can also get out of control. Police often get upset by civil disobedience. They sometimes overreact. They may also tack on charges like:
- ∅ Resisting arrest or delaying a peace or police officer;
- ∅Assaulting a peace or police officer;
- ∅ Disrupting a public meeting;
- ∅ Riot and unlawful assembly;
- ∅ Failure to disperse;
- ∅ Disturbing the peace;
- ∅ Trespassing;
- ∅ Refusing to obey a peace officer who is enforcing the Vehicle Code;
- ∅ Attempting to free a person who has just been arrested;
- ∅ And more.
We use 42 U.S.C. Section 1983 of the U.S. Code to sue individual actors in their individual and official capacities and to vindicate your rights before a judge and jury.
We invite you to review our verdicts, our accolades and awards and what clients have to say about us and give us a call for a free consultation where our lawyers will sit down with you personally. John is licensed to practice in Florida, Georgia and Alabama with passion and compassion and co-counsels cases all over the country. He can be emailed at [email protected] or call us at (904) 444-4444.