Your Right to Protest in the State of Texas
The First Amendment gives you and all Americans the right to assemble peacefully and petition our government for the redress of grievances when we believe that it – and its institutions – have trampled on our rights or have failed to protect our rights. The recent protests which have risen all over our nation bear testament to this right. Understanding your rights as a U.S. citizen who chooses to protest can help ensure that you do so peacefully and within the law's limits.
Protesting on Public Streets
In the State of Texas, and elsewhere, it is lawful to protest in any traditional public forum, which includes:
Further, it is lawful to take pictures or videos of anything in plain view while in any of these public places. It is important to note that counterprotesters who disagree with your views also have the right to protest. Still, the police may separate your groups – while allowing you to remain within sight and earshot of the other group. You can march on a public street without obtaining a permit to do so, but the police are allowed to move you along if you are causing a traffic obstruction.
Protesting on Private Property
Without the explicit permission of the owner of a specific private property, it is illegal to protest on that private property. Additionally, even with the property owner's explicit consent to assemble, you will still also need the owner's explicit consent to take pictures or videos of anything while on that property.
Protesting in front of a Government Building
While it is not illegal to protest peacefully in front of a government building, blocking access to a building's entrance or interfering with a government building's function is never allowed.
When Do the Police Have the Right to Break Up a Protest?
When protests are peaceful, and on public property or on private property in which explicit consent was given, the police may not break up the proceedings without having a legitimate reason for doing so. If the protest is deemed dangerous, the police do have the right to disperse protesters by issuing a dispersal order. Any combination of the following could cause police to issue a dispersal order:
The protesters are blocking traffic
The protesters are rioting
The protestors are otherwise dangerous
If the police do issue a dispersal order, they are charged with providing all dispersing protesters with a safe and clearly defined exit route. The police must also issue clear instructions regarding charges protesters will face if they fail to comply with the disbursement order – before they can move forward with pressing charges.
Do Not Delay Consulting with an Experienced Killeen Criminal Lawyer
If you face criminal charges related to protesting – or anything else –, you need help. Brett Pritchard at The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard in Killeen, Texas, is a resourceful criminal lawyer committed to vigorously and skillfully defending your constitutional rights – while advocating for your beneficial case resolution. Your rights matter, so please do not hesitate to contact or call us at 254-501-4040 for more information today.