Since the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, people around the country have taken to the streets to protest the killings of black people at the hands of the police. In Texas, the Texas Department of Public Safety reports that several arrests have been made since the protests started around the state—and people have been charged with a myriad of crimes from misdemeanor charges of obstructing a highway and participating in a riot to felony charges like criminal mischief to assault of a public servant. While citizens do have the right to protest, it’s important for them to be careful because when things get out of control, they can be at risk of being arrested.
Organized protests are required to obtain permits in advance if they are going to block traffic on city streets, as well as prevent pedestrian foot traffic on sidewalks. In the case of an impromptu protest, participants should still be able to march in the street in most cases without police involvement, even if they’re slowing down the flow of traffic or inconveniencing pedestrians. However, in some cases, people may be arrested for blocking traffic or disorderly conduct if the protest causes a large interference.
If police believe that a protest will result in a riot or other threats to public safety, an order to disburse may be issued to shut the protest down. If you do not leave the area after the police have announced the order, you may be arrested. Similarly, a violent protest may also result in a curfew being issued if the situation is considered an emergency. In these cases, people who do not obey the order and go home at the established curfew time may also be arrested.
You are legally allowed to protest on public property, however, there are limits. For example, if you protest in front of government buildings and block access to the public, you may face a trespassing charge. Also, you can be arrested for trespassing if you protest on private property without permission.
Other Causes for Arrests During Protests
When tempers run high, protesters may face arrest for becoming violent. For example, people may be arrested for assault of a police officer trying to keep the peace or even each other.
Other activities that can occur at protests that may lead to arrest include:
- using explosives
Any arrest can have long-lasting consequences for your reputation, even if you get arrested standing up for a good cause. Though you may not get convicted of the charges when you’re arrested at a protest, it can show up on a criminal background check. This can possibly hinder your ability to get a job in the future since some employers don’t want to hire workers who have been arrested for any reason.
Call an Austin Criminal Defense Lawyer for Assistance
If you have been arrested during a protest, you will need help navigating the legal system to get the best outcome. Get in touch with Granger and Mueller PC to find out how we can protect your legal rights and achieve the best result for your case.