Our country has recently witnessed high-profile police brutality cases that have resulted in the deaths of many men and women of color and reignited conversations surrounding racism and inequality in our law enforcement and legal systems. With the fight for racial justice in America comes heightened emotions, and those sentiments have been on display during protests – with occasionally explosive results.
While it's certainly understandable that systemic oppression and racism make people angry, some protesters take their righteous indignation too far. While the vast majority of protesters are peaceful, others end up facing criminal charges that might include assault, property damage, or disorderly conduct.
When Protests Become Violent
In September, three protesters in downtown Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, were charged following a confrontation with diners at a restaurant. The protest began peacefully, but the incident escalated, and the three protesters who are now facing charges were caught on video yelling and breaking a glass. The recording later reached social media, where it went viral.
It's important to keep in mind that the trio did not start off doing anything illegal. They were exercising their constitutional right to free speech and protesting racial injustice before they became unruly, eventually using a megaphone and offensive language in an attempt to incite further violence. Police also reported that the protesters harassed bicyclists, forcing the cyclists to defend themselves.
In general, law enforcement has the right to break up violent protests and arrest those who are destructive. Still, ideally, you shouldn't be charged with a crime unless you were directly linked to the confrontation. Using words to incite violence, however, can be considered a crime and can be grounds for arrest – and sometimes protesters are arrested en masse, even when participants haven't committed a crime.
Are You Facing Criminal Charges After a Protest?
If you attended a protest this year and have been charged with a crime related to your involvement, you're not alone. In fact, it's completely understandable if you got swept up by the energy of the event and let your emotions get the better of you, especially at a time of such great tension and unrest in our country.
Even if you remained peaceful and engaged only in legal activities at a protest, that doesn't ensure you won't get arrested. In fact, officers have been known to arrest groups of people at large protests – though in many cases criminal charges won't hold up in court. Regardless of whether you've done anything wrong, you have constitutional rights, and a lawyer can make sure those rights are upheld.
Though dealing with the legal system is never a pleasant experience, facing criminal charges is easier with an experienced attorney on your side. The impact of criminal charges can affect many areas of a person's life, future, and career. If you've been charged with a crime, it's important to understand all of the possible implications. Attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm can help you navigate this challenge. Call us today at (888) 535-3686 or contact us online.