The First Amendment protects some of Americans’ most valued rights: freedom of speech, press, assembly, religion, and petition. However, these rights are often infringed upon by police officers who may not realize how broad these freedoms really are. Here are just a few examples of violations of First Amendment rights.
Arrest for “mouthing off” to cops
Contrary to what some police officers may tell you, you are within your rights to question police officers’ behavior. You should be able to ask why you’re being bothered without being arrested. You are also protected if you dispute something the officer said or defend your actions. This does have limitations, however; public obscenity, threats, and “fighting words” are not acceptable.
Arrest for protesting in a public place
If you are protesting in a public place, like on the street or in front of a courthouse, you have every right to be there unless you are breaking traffic laws or harassing passersby. Officers who tell you that you cannot be on the sidewalk are incorrect as long as pedestrians have room to walk and you are not forcing anyone to listen to what you have to say.
Censorship for inflammatory content
Courts recognize very few limitations on the content of free speech. Generally, unless you are inciting panic, threatening someone, or spreading obscenity, you can say whatever you want, even if it goes against established law. For example, you are within your rights to protest in favor of the legalization of medical marijuana, without fear of arrest. Public officials may try to limit topics you can discuss or arrest you for discussing something illegal, but remember that nearly any content that does not threaten someone is legal.
Whether you’re a protestor, a school teacher, or any other citizen, you are guaranteed basic rights of free speech by the Constitution, and you should feel free to exercise them. If your rights have been violated, you need an experienced, passionate civil rights attorney. Call the Law Offices of Patrick Geckle in Philadelphia at (267) 234-7708 today for the defense of your Constitutional rights.