The Rights of Protesters in Florida
Under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, every citizen in the country has a right to peacefully protest. But that does not mean that they can protest in whichever manner they choose, even if they remain peaceful while doing so. And recently, Florida tried to infringe upon those rights by passing a state law that could put the lives of protesters in danger. If you want to know more about the rights of protestors in Florida, read on and consider getting in touch with a distinguished Fort Lauderdale attorney that can advocate for you.
Laws Protestors Must Follow
Protesters are guaranteed the right to protest in a peaceful manner, but they cannot break any Florida laws while doing so. This includes outright acts of breaking the law such as uttering threats, trespassing, or theft but it also includes minor infractions such as holding up traffic when protesters block sidewalks or roadways.
In these instances, authorities may break up a protest but they can never prohibit a peaceful protest from taking place simply because they disagree with the content of the protest.
Even in the case of minor infractions, authorities can only ask the protesters to move or, in the case of noise violations, to keep the volume level down. Typically they cannot prevent a protest from happening when protesters comply with these requests.
Senate Bill 1096
While the rights of protesters are largely protected under the First Amendment, Florida lawmakers recently tried to pass a bill that would threaten the very lives of protesters. That bill, pushed by Senator George Gainer and Representative Jayer Williamson, would protect drivers who hit or ran over protesters that were obstructing traffic during a protest or demonstration.
Under the bill, drivers would essentially be protected if they hit protesters with their car and would not be held liable for injuries, damages, or even death. The bill was not passed and while Gainer has said he would no longer try to push the bill through, Williamson said it was something that was “still in consideration”.
Florida is just one state that has tried to pass such a bill but the fact remains that it is simply unconstitutional. Protesters, whether they are in Florida or Washington, have the right to peacefully protest. It is a right that is one of the backbones of America and denying anyone that right threatens the idea of a free and open society.
Contacting an Attorney
While protesters can be arrested if they are found to be breaking any state or federal laws during their protest, the very act of protesting peacefully is legal in Florida and in all other states. Freedom of speech and the freedom to assemble are not only constitutional rights, they are two of the tenets that America was founded upon. It is vital that these rights are protected. If you or a loved one were arrested while legally protesting and are now facing criminal charges, do not hesitate to call a defense West Palm Beach attorney today.