Know Your Rights Before You Protest

Know Your Rights Before You Protest

As of this writing protests have erupted nationwide in response to the murder of George Floyd. Unfortunately your chances of being arrested if you choose to participate in one of these protests could be relatively high, whether you’re technically breaking the law or not.

Still, following the law is your first defense. Try to remain on public property if you can. That’s public sidewalks, or a public park. If you cross the street cross at regular crosswalks. Keep in mind that the person next to you may get you arrested as well, even if you’re acting innocently.

It’s also an extremely smart idea to have a lawyer lined up before you go, and to write that attorney’s number on your arm so you can get in touch with them as quickly as possible.

Never Resist Arrest

Resisting can include laying down, dragging your feet, yelling, and struggling. According to New York Penal Law section 205.30, “A person is guilty of resisting arrest when he intentionally prevents or attempts to prevent a police officer or peace officer from effecting an authorized arrest of himself or another person. Resisting arrest is a class A misdemeanor.”  It does not necessarily mean hitting a cop. You should comply with all instructions. Resisting arrest can turn a minor civil disobedience or disorderly conduct charge into a much more serious charge.

You can ask why you are being arrested. If the officer doesn’t answer you can even say, “As I’m not being charged with anything, am I free to go?”

You won’t be freed, but this can matter to your attorney later.

After that, say, “I invoke my right to remain silent and I want to call my attorney.” Don’t say anything else. If possible, try to get your phone call during booking.

After Your Arrest

You may luck out and get a desk appearance ticket. If so you still have to appear in court. If you’re unlucky you’ll be charged with something more serious. In most cases this will be a misdemeanor charge and you shouldn’t have to worry about bail, but you still may be in jail overnight.

Calling your lawyer as fast as you can may allow your attorney to expedite the process for you. This can get you out of jail faster and a lot more safely.

Remember not to talk to the police. Avoid talking to your fellow prisoners as well. Exercise that right to remain silent every chance you get. When they say your words can and will be used against you, they are not kidding.

Protesting is a Constitutional right. Make sure you protect your rights by verbally asserting them, and by getting an attorney to help you. Keep in mind that you want to avoid any type of criminal conviction and an attorney can help you navigate the justice system.

See also:

What You Need to Know About Your 5th Amendment Rights

How to Strengthen Your NYC Criminal Case

Can You Really Get My Criminal Case Dismissed?