Defenders of First Amendment Rights
As an American, you’re allowed to protest against the government You’re protected under the First Amendment and your right to free speech. Protests and protester rights are a critical part of our democratic process. It has created monumental change throughout American history and led to equality and justice for all.
However, sometimes protesters come up against law enforcement officials, who may use excessive force, make mass arrests, and set curfews in order to deter other protesters from joining.
Sometimes, like when protesters become violent, loot stores, or damage property, legal action against them may be justified. But in other cases – like when Black Lives Matters protesters smashed the Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office’s windows and painted the street – legal action could be seen as unjustified because those protesters are facing felony charges that could lead to life sentences. Typically, these types of felony charges are only for the worst offenders like murderers, so clear that these charges were excessive.
Here at Conyers & Nix, we defend protesters because we believe we need to uphold their First Amendment rights. When working with protesters, go over the details of what happened and their charges and figure out what the next step should be. When you hire us, you hire both of us, and we are ready to fight for you.
If you are charged with a crime because you protested, we’re here for you. And if you’re planning on going to a protest and want to avoid potentially breaking the law, here are some tips.
How Should I Prepare for a Protest?
When going to a protest, it’s a good idea to bring your essentials like your wallet, phone, keys, and ID. Also, study up on the rights of protesters. For example, you have the right to peacefully protest as well as film anything in the public space. If you see police using excessive force, for instance, you could take out your phone and capture a video of it. The cops may demand that you turn over your phone, but they need the right paperwork and court order/warrant before they access your information. If they delete your photos or videos, they could get into trouble.
You should also have a plan just in case things get violent or other protesters begin performing illegal acts. If you’re going with a group of friends, then pick a safe meeting spot where you can get away from the chaos should it occur.
Keep in mind that bringing a weapon – even a legal firearm – to a protest can cause a situation to escalate very quickly, and could lead to your arrest, and misdemeanor or felony charges. Rather than arming yourself, it’s wise to take protective gear like a helmet or goggles just in case things turn ugly.
What Should I Do If Detained at a Protest?
If you are detained at a protest, it doesn’t mean you’re going to be arrested. It just means the police want to question you. They’ll only arrest you if they find probable cause to do so. If you are arrested at a protest, then you will be in police custody.
When you’re being detained or arrested, don’t try to fight the police or run away. The situation could get worse quickly and you could get hurt, hurt someone, or end up facing harsh criminal charges. Don’t lie or hand over false information, because it could be used against you.
You have the right to remain silent if you are arrested, and you can decline an officer’s request to search through your belongings. However, they may still pat you down if they think you’re carrying a weapon.
Remember, never speak to police without an attorney present. Never! Call an attorney immediately. An attorney will speak to the police on your behalf, get more details about the investigation, and then recommend whether a police interview is in your best interest. Often, an interview will not help and will only give police evidence that will help them and hurt you.
For representation, you can ask for a government-appointed lawyer or hire your own, like Conyers & Nix, to help. If the cops ask, you don’t have to give details on whether or not you’re a U.S. citizen or where you were born. Of course, you can request a telephone call, and the police cannot listen to your call if you’re contacting your lawyer.
After you get out of jail or detainment, make sure you write down everything you remember about the incident and take photos of any injuries you may have incurred. If your friends saw what happened or you know any other witnesses, reach out to them for details as well.
If you didn’t contact your lawyer while you were being arrested, then you can reach out to Conyers & Nix and we help you with your protest defense.
We’re here to serve you and assist with your protest defense case, so contact us today.
Getting in Touch With Conyers & Nix for Protest Defense Help
We at Conyers & Nix are former public defenders with several years of experience representing protesters. No matter what kind of charges you’re facing, we can guide you through the legal process and create a strategy moving forward.
Though it can be stressful to be charged because of what happened at a protest, we’re here for you. We will fight for you and explore all your available options instead of just pleading out. And at every stage, we’re going to be open and honest about what’s going on so you can have some peace of mind and be involved in the legal process.
If you would like assistance with protest defense, don’t hesitate to contact us. Make sure you fill out our form and include your legal question, details about the alleged incident, the alleged crime, and the location of your next court appearance if you have one. We’ll make sure to get back to you within 24 hours or less.
We anticipate hearing from you and helping you. Contact us now.