Free speech is still an American right. Expressions of free speech are protected by the First Amendment, and gatherings of these types have increased in numbers since the death of George Floyd in May. While many demonstrators were peacefully protesting, others were not, leading to violence and destruction in Raleigh, Durham, Greensboro, Charlotte, and other cities around the Tar Heel State.
Police nationwide have arrested both peaceful protesters right alongside looters and violent mobs to prevent more vandalism and harm to residents. What do you do if you were in one of these protests and found yourself arrested?
The Right To Protest
Protesting comes under the First Amendment and “free speech.” This means that you have the right to express an opinion in public, anytime, anywhere, with some limitations. (Not all speech is “protected” by the First Amendment, such as inciting riots or “fighting words.”) Protests and demonstrations on private property, such as a place of business or employment, are not as protected.
However, protests that evolve into more than civil disobedience and involve illegal activity such as rioting, burning, looting, and other conduct that can cause injury or property damage can lead to arrest and other police intervention.
Large-scale demonstrations generally require permits to accommodate the additional police presence for the protection of attendees.
“If any person shall willfully and unlawfully resist, delay or obstruct a public officer in discharging or attempting to discharge a duty of his office, he shall be guilty of a Class 2 misdemeanor.”
In addition to resisting arrest when you’re told, it also means interfering with any police officer who is doing his or her job. This includes the act of interfering when an officer is arresting someone else. Additional causes include using abusive language towards law enforcement, giving false information such as name and address, refusing to accept a citation, and preventing an officer from doing his or her job, such as interfering with another arrest.
Not complying with a police request can also be considered “resisting arrest,” based on the officer’s judgment. Therefore, it’s important at such a public event to allow the police to do their job, and comply with their requests.
If you’re charged with a different offense, such as disorderly conduct, actively resisting arrest can bring a second charge, even if the first one for disorderly conduct is eventually dropped. If you’re innocent of the original charge, resisting arrest is a separate charge for which you will be tried.
Should you be part of an arrest during a protest that turns dangerous or violent, you have the right to the criminal defense attorney of your choice. A defense attorney can help you through the court process and work to have the charges reduced or even dropped.
Need Help With Resisting Arrest Charges? Contact Raleigh’s Criminal Defense Attorney
Dewey P. Brinkley is an experienced criminal defense attorney in Raleigh, NC. Before working as a defense attorney, he was a Wake County Assistant District Attorney. He understands the criminal justice system and has experience with resisting arrest as both misdemeanor and felony charges.
If you have been charged with resisting arrest, call the law offices of Dewey P. Brinkley today for a free initial consultation to discuss your criminal defense case at (919) 832-0307. You can also use our online contact form.