Can I Be Arrested for Protesting?Published: Nov 14, 2016, by in Constitutional Rights, Crimes Against Peace & Public, Criminal Defense, Legal Blog, Property Crimes
For several straight days, individuals in Chicago and across the nation have been expressing their jubilation as well as their dissent over the recent presidential election and in essence, the direction of the country. With a heavily divided nation and regardless of your political affiliation, protests are happening in several major U.S.cities and if you decide to exercise your first amendment right to free speech and participate in a civil demonstration or an organized protest, you will need to know not only your rights but also the possible risk of criminal charges.
If you are arrested and charged with a crime after participating in a protest in Illinois, contact a skilled Chicago criminal defense lawyer with O’Meara Law at 312-909-0706 for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your particular situation.
What Can I Be Charged With?
Everyone should make their own informed decisions about when and where to stage a protest against the wrongs they see in their community and any demonstration should be performed in an organized manner where instructions from authorized law enforcement officers are followed. However, these protests can be chaotic environments and directions are often misunderstood or overzealous officers may even violate your rights to speak freely and assemble.
While the first amendment to the constitution affords citizens the right to free speech and to engage in protests, the courts have also ruled that the government can limit where and how these assemblies are carried out. Essentially, a protest becomes unlawful when it blocks or impedes walk or motorways, if it occurs on private property, or if participants fail to follow an authorized or lawful order from police officers. If any of these situations happen, during your protest you can face arrest.
If your protest does become volatile, it is important to understand and be prepared for the possible criminal charges that sometimes stem from acts of civil disobedience. These offenses are numerous and can include disorderly conduct, rioting, trespassing, criminal mischief, and resisting arrest, among other serious criminal offenses, which will require the services of a veteran Chicago public crimes lawyer. With such a wide range of possibilities, the penalties for a conviction will also vary and often include community service requirements, expensive fines, and even significant time in jail for more serious charges. Additionally, any conviction will almost assuredly result in a permanent criminal record, which may negatively impact your life in several other ways from future employers running background checks to an inability to secure housing or scholarship opportunities.
What Will Happen After I’m Arrested for Protesting?
After an arrest, you’ll be handcuffed, searched, and eventually transported to jail where you’ll be processed prior to being issued any relevant citations that may or may not require you to return to court at a later time. In some cases, you may have to spend more time in police custody until a court hearing takes place to set bail to assure you return to court. Depending on the severity of your charges, you can expect to spend anywhere from several hours to several days in custody.
If you are arrested for protesting it is critical to immediately reach out to a capable criminal defense lawyer with experience defending clients’ constitutional rights. Your attorney will be able to explain the Illinois criminal court process to you in greater detail and will work to secure your release all while he or she pursues the best possible resolution to your case.
O’Meara Law Is Here To Help
Attorney Michael O’Meara understands the need and obligation of U.S citizens to exercise their constitutional rights. It is important to do so responsibly to ensure the safety of all those involved, but if your rights were violated or you were the victim of mistaken identity for the actions of another protester, you should protect yourself and your freedom by exercising another one of your rights, the right to consult an attorney.
If you are facing any of the various criminal charges that can result after a protest, call Chicago criminal defense attorney Michael O’Meara at 312-909-0706 right away for a free and confidential consultation. Attorney O’Meara will passionately advocate for your rights and will work to protect your future.