GOP Republican Convention, Protest Arrests and First Amendment Violations

During the week of August 27, 2012, the GOP Republican Convention will be held in Tampa, Florida.

During the week of August 27, 2012, the GOP Republican Convention will be held in Tampa, Florida. According to the Tampa Bay Times, this convention will not go unnoticed. In fact, protestors are expected to arrive in droves at the convention to speak out against Republican practices and perceived injustices. Unfortunately, although people in the United States are guaranteed the right to protest against the government and to have their voices heard, sometimes these rights are not fully respected by law enforcement.  In fact, the Tampa Bay Times indicates that as many as 1,000 arrests are expected during the convention.

If you are exercising your right to peacefully protest and you are arrested at the Tampa GOP Republican Convention, it is important to seek the help of a First Amendment lawyer as soon as possible. At Stechschulte Bulnes, we have experience representing clients arrested for disturbing the peace and for other related charges that arise out of a protest effort. We can put our legal expertise to work for you so you can defend yourself and avoid a conviction and criminal record.

How a Protest Lawyer Can Help

In the United States, you cannot be arrested for protesting against the government or against anything else. In fact, the First Amendment to the United States constitution guarantees your right to free speech and is one of your most fundamental rights.

Because you have the right to protest, law enforcement cannot make arrests on the basis of protesting. Instead, you may face related charges such as disturbing the peace on the basis of your protest activities. Unfortunately, being charged with disturbing the peace can lead to a criminal conviction that can follow you for life.  Therefore, if you are arrested for disturbing the peace, it is imperative that you contact a protest lawyer right away.  A Tampa protest lawyer is familiar with disturbing the peace law and can help you to mount a vigorous defense so you can walk away without penalties or a criminal record.

Defenses to Disturbing the Peace

An experienced protest lawyer can raise a number of defenses if you are arrested for disturbing the peace or other related crimes in conjunction with protesting the GOP Republican Convention in Tampa. For example:

  • Constitutionally-protected activity. First Amendment lawyers can argue that you were engaged in a Constitutionally-protected activity.  If your words or your actions are considered to be speech protected by the Constitution, you are not guilty of disturbing the peace. The First Amendment provides broad protection for many different kinds of speech.  As long as your activities during the protest do not fall within an exception to First Amendment protection (such as an exception for fighting words), you can avoid conviction.
  • False accusations/wrongful arrest. Law enforcement must be able to prove you were disturbing the peace at the time of your arrest. You can argue that they arrested the wrong person or that they have insufficient proof that you were engaged in a prohibited disruption.
  • Lack of intent to disturb the peace. If you did not intentionally cause a disturbance, then you typically can avoid conviction of disturbing the peace.

A Tampa First Amendment Attorney Can Help

These are just a few examples of the types of defenses that a First Amendment lawyer or protest lawyer can raise if you are arrested at the GOP Republican Convention in Tampa. The sooner you contact a Tampa criminal defense lawyer after your arrest, the sooner you can build evidence of a First Amendment violation or build evidence necessary to raise other defenses.

At Stechschulte Bulnes, we will fight vigorously for your right to express yourself in protest. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help.

To learn more about how we can help

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