Tahlequah Attorney BlogProtesting 101

An Attorney Can Help if You’re Going to Go to a Protest

Video Transcribed: So you’re thinking about going to a protest. What should you know? My name is Ryan Cannonie, I am the Tahlequah Attorney for Wirth Law Firm in Tahlequah. Over the past few years, we’ve seen protests a lot in the media. We’ve seen protests from everything from economic situations to social issues, political protests, those have been pretty big, especially during election years. There’s a lot of people getting involved with protesting.

I decided to do a little video talking a little bit about some of the protesting criminal implications. So, some things that maybe you should be aware of, that an attorney can help with if you’re going to go to a protest. This spiraled out of a friend of mine a few years ago who wrote a book and asked me if I could give some, here are a few suggestions of things people going to a protest should think about. Over the past few months, this has kind of been on my mind, so I decided to do a video about it.

The first thing is if you’re going, I’m not talking about a protest organizer, there’s a whole separate issue there, but you’re just John Q. Public, you’re going to express your beliefs in a nonviolent way, you want to go there and support whatever cause it is, a few things you should think about before going to a protest. Most people, now I can’t say all, but most people going to a protest, don’t wake up thinking, “Hey, I’m going to go to jail today.” That’s not usually something that people think about.

I myself have been to a few protests for different issues I believe in. That was something I was thinking about, but I’m an attorney, so I’m not thinking the same way everyone else is on some of this stuff. But most people go to just express their point of view, to be with like-minded people, and to get a message out. That’s the goal. It’s not to burn cars or buildings or take over a Capitol. It’s to go and get a message out. Most of your protests are going to be on that.

But you never know when there’s going to be other people there who want to start something more. So it’s good to go ahead and make your own safeguards and put them in place, just in case that happens while you’re there, and also be kind of vigilant of those people. You don’t really want to be around the people who are probably going to get arrested pretty soon and be all over the news.

So the first thing that you might want to look into is are you in a bail bond state? So some states, most of them in fact, require if you have a right to bail, meaning that you have a right to be released and not be held in jail, but most States put a condition on this as bond.

It’s a surety, it’s something to ensure that you’re going to come back, that you’re going to actually show up on your court date and be there. Now, this is usually monetary, meaning that it’s your bond is set at $1,000, whatever it’s set at. So if you’re in one of these states, then there are bonds persons that you go to, you pay a certain percentage of so if your bond is $1000, they may charge you a hundred or, usually, it’s between 8 and 13%, I believe.

And then they’ll help you bond out. It’s pretty important that you check on this before you go to a protest, even if you think that everything’s going to be fine, great.

At least get that contact information, put some money aside in case you have to make a bond because you would rather do this on the front end than be sitting in jail for a week, trying to get this all sorted through calling friends and family. So if you are not in a bail bond state though, there are certain states and even certain counties within bail bond states, that allow a pretrial release program.

This is kind of like probation on the front side, in a way. So if you’re arrested, before you’re charged, or sometimes if you’re arrested and charged pretty quickly, they will allow you to do a pretrial release.

The federal government does this with a lot of their fed cases, where you are assessed for risk, and depending on what your risk assessment is, they may let you out with, call us the day before the court to check-in, call us every day to check-in, here’s an ankle monitor, whatever stipulations they put on you for your risky behavior, a risk to commit a new offense, I should say.

So some places are like that, but in most places, you’re going to be cold, hard cash. Either you pay it yourself or you get a bond person to pay it. So bonding, that’s something to consider, if you’re going to a protest. The second thing, kind of selfish, but I’m going to go ahead and throw it out there. Just as important as making sure you can get out of jail is making sure that you have someone to help, maybe keep you out, after that, getting an attorney.

You can retain an attorney. You can go talk, you hit us up on our number. You can give us a call or our Tahlequahattorney.com page. At least we have your cont-, you have our contact info, we have yours. If you are really concerned about it, some attorneys will take a retainer, where you can pay them a certain amount just to be ready that if you call, they’re ready right then to come to try to help you.

Or maybe even some attorneys I know will retain and even go to the protests with people or be somewhere nearby in case something happens. I know I put it at number two, but it’s really kind of right up there with number one. You want to have an attorney, if not retained, at least talk to them about it, because you want to be able to get an attorney as fast as possible whenever you’re dealing with these situations. So those are two big things.

Obstruction is usually, I think what I already mentioned, it’s kind of one of the charges that you can be, actually I don’t think I’ve mentioned that yet. So the number one thing you’re probably going to be charged with is obstruction. That, in Oklahoma, is extremely broad and in most states, it’s extremely broad. Basically, it just means that you’re delaying, interfering, obstructing an officer.

This can be anything from you wouldn’t get out of the way to you were part of a group and they slapped it on everybody. It’s a very broad charge. It gets charged a whole lot. Now, one thing to consider if you’re having interactions at a protest that law enforcement become part of, at least in Oklahoma and most states, you can record what they’re doing, but many states also have some qualifiers on that. So for Oklahoma, you can record as long as you’re not interfering.

So if you’re getting up into the officer’s face, if you’re preventing them from arresting somebody, yeah, you’re recording, but that’s not going to protect you. You’re still going to get charged with obstruction through that.

These are just a few things to think about. There is a whole plethora, there are tons of books on the subject. There’s a lot I could do on these videos, but I don’t want to make a 30-minute video. So if you have questions, if you’re thinking about going to a protest and you’re concerned, you want to make sure you have an attorney that can help you out as soon as possible, then give us a call.

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