What to Do If You’ve Been Arrested At a Protest in Orlando
Our nation is experiencing turbulent times, and it continues to be of the utmost importance that we, as citizens, know our rights under the First Amendment. Social media has played an important role in highlighting the urgency of police brutality. More transparency than ever shows us the prevalence of police misconduct in our communities and allows people from all over the world to engage in conversations about how to change the system. As protests persist throughout the country, it’s important to understand how to respond to being arrested at a protest in Orlando.
If you or someone you know was recently arrested, the first step is to contact your criminal defense attorney to gather your story and details of the incident. More than likely, there were other people at the protest who experienced a similar situation and can help bridge the details during the time of your arrest. Either way, it’s important to reach out as soon as possible. The Umansky Law Firm is available 24/7 for a free consultation.
Were You Arrested on Private or Public Property?
Private property is one of the safest places protesters can assemble to exercise their right to freedom of speech. As long as you have permission from the property owner, there is very little police can do within property lines. However, if you step outside of those lines, police officers might attempt to arrest you for disturbing the peace or disorderly conduct. If you face charges related to protesting, you should consult a criminal defense lawyer with experience challenging misdemeanor charges like these.
Public areas including city streets, parks, and sidewalks are where the majority of citizens are arrested during a protest. For example, if you are protesting in front of government buildings, you must allow access to the building without being in violation of the law. In other cases, protesters are being arrested or detained directly off the streets.
What Criminal Charges Could I Face After a Protest?
Police officers may cite any of several laws when arresting you at a protest. Keep in mind that, if you participate in a violent and unorganized protest, this can increase your chances of facing criminal charges. Police show up at protests to keep innocent bystanders and streets safe; however, when unorganized gatherings turn into riots, the police tend to react strongly by arresting anyone associated with these acts. If police are aggressively arresting protestors, it’s important to record their actions. Any evidence could help your case if you’re arrested. If possible, you should also try to get the following information:
- Names and badge numbers of police officers arresting you
- The law enforcement agency the police officers work for
- The location and time of your arrest
- The laws you supposedly violated when you were arrested
The above information could help your criminal defense lawyer in Orlando present a strong case that shows your actions in a favorable light to the court.
What are Some Restrictions During a Protest?
In many cases, a protest can suddenly rise because of recent and tragic news, such as what happened with the George Floyd protests that continue today. Beyond looting and violent riots that can occur, if you were arrested because of certain restrictions, this may constitute a violation of your First Amendment rights. There are restrictions such as marching on specific routes without a permit or using sound equipment if they’re unnecessary for traffic control or public safety.
If you are part of an unpermitted march and asked by police to move to the side to avoid obstruction, they have the right to do so. The key component to your case is if you were part of a permitted or unpermitted gathering. When police are called to control the peace in unpermitted gatherings, and you were arrested, you need to know the reason and the surrounding situations. However in many cases, it’s not that simple.
Arresting Protestors in the Age of George Floyd
Altercations between protestors and law enforcement officers escalated in May and June 2020. Innocent bystanders and citizens within their rights were detained and arrested for several hours. A higher level of force was used across the country, and, according to The Guardian, over 10,000 people were arrested in 140 cities across the country.
Many of the stories that The Guardian covered varied from arrests for curfew, obstructing public pathways or even during kettling, a tactic where police surround a crowd to enforce dispersing. If you’re one of the thousands of protesters arrested for demonstrating, a criminal defense lawyer can make sure you receive protection and a fair legal process.
Protecting Your Rights as a Protester in Orlando
The American Civil Liberties Union has written a detailed outline of knowing your rights as a protestor. If you were recently arrested during a protest and need assistance in defending your rights or moving through the court system, contact an experienced attorney. The Umansky Law Firm has expert first amendment attorneys that know your constitutional rights and can help guide you through this process.
Call by phone or fill out our contact form today for your free consultation. The sooner you seek legal counsel, the more likely it is that you will obtain a favorable outcome for your case.