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Freedom of Speech & Police Authority

By Hager & Schwartz, P.A.

October 12, 2018

In America, protestors are allowed to congregate peacefully, and police officers are dispatched to make sure that protests remain peaceful. Typically speaking, protestors can say whatever they want to say police officers thanks to their protected right to freedom of speech. However, does freedom of speech extend to anything and everything you could say to the police, or is there a line where authorities will jump into action?

Not-So-Free Speech

The following types of speech are not protected under freedom of speech and could result in police action.

Fighting Words/Threats of Violence

Any speech that inflames someone else and could incite physical retaliation is not protected under freedom of speech. Additionally, any speech that encourages people toward lawless action is not protected. Therefore, if a guy tells police he is going to attack them, police can arrest him. Additionally, if a guy tells a crowd to break into a store (an example of inciting lawless action), he can be arrested.


While the general use of obscenities is protected under the First Amendment, police can arrest someone for excessive use of obscenities. If a type of speech is patently offensive based on contemporary community standards, the speaker is likely to face arrest.

False Allegations

If a protestor were to say that a police officer touched them inappropriately, when in reality the police officer did not touch the person at all, this is grounds for arrest. Therefore, never make personal statements about a police officer in jest, as it could be taken as a form of false allegations.

As you can see, not every form of speech is protected under the First Amendment. When dealing with police, it is crucial you never threaten violence or make false allegations against them. If you or a loved one is arrested for one of the reasons mentioned above, contact Hager & Schwartz for legal assistance.

Call (954) 840-8713 now for an immediate consultation concerning your case!