Can You Be Arrested At a Protest for Disorderly Conduct?

Protests are a wonderful way to get out in the streets and make your voice heard. Whether you are passionate about reproductive rights, your opinions regarding President Trump’s multiple travel bans, or any other hot-button topic, you have the right to join a march or protest and speak your mind.

However, these protests can seem intimidating, especially if you have been watching the news. While most protests are peaceful and productive, the news has highlighted many recent protests that have gotten out of hand. Know that if you go to a protest a highly controversial topic, you could be putting yourself at risk for violence – or getting arrested.

Earlier this month, Trump supporters showed their approval of the President with the “March 4 Trump” rally. Hundreds of people showed up in different cities across the country. Hundreds also showed up for counter-protests. When the two groups collided, arrests were made.

Six people were arrested in Minnesota. Ten were arrested in California. Three were arrested in Oregon.

While some individuals were handcuffed for fighting, or even setting off fireworks, most of the people who were arrested were later charged with disorderly conduct.

What Is Disorderly Conduct?

“Disorderly conduct” is not limited to one action or intention. Colorado has a few definitions of this charge. An individual has engaged in disorderly conduct if he or she intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly does the following:

  • “Makes a course and obviously offensive utterance, gesture, or display in a public place and the utterance, gesture, or display tends to incite an immediate breach of the peace”
  • “Makes unreasonable noise in a public place or near a private residence that he has no right to occupy”
  • “Fights with another in a public place”

There are a few more examples of disorderly conduct that involve deadly weapons and firearms, but you get the picture. The full definition of disorderly conduct can be found here. 

You don’t need to look far to see a specific example of disorderly conduct in our state. In October 2016, a 19-year old Colorado Mesa University student attended a Trump rally to see what all the hype was about. The student, Sloan Tucker, was wearing a “Black Lives Matter” t-shirt, which caused heckling among the group of Trump supporters.

Tucker was pretty close to Trump. When the two made eye contact, she gave the now-President the middle finger. Security officers responded by escorting Tucker and fellow students out of the rally. One of the officers put his hands around Tucker’s throat, and she began to fight him off. When she was out of the rally, she was arrested for disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.

Defense Strategies for Disorderly Conduct

Defense Strategies for Disorderly Conduct MinneapolisDisorderly conduct is typically a petty offense or misdemeanor, but charges can still be fought in court to avoid fines, community service, and other criminal consequences.

Let’s look at the case of Sloan Tucker. She has a pretty decent reason for fighting off the security guard if he put his hands on her throat. On the other hand, some may consider “flipping the bird” a gesture that incited a breach of the peace. On yet another hand, Tucker’s “Black Lives Matter” shirt also allegedly caused some disorder, though wearing it could be argued as an exercise of her first amendment rights.

You can probably see how disorderly conduct cases might be complicated. If you have been arrested or charged with disorderly conduct, it is best to contact a Colorado defense lawyer to start building a purposeful, effective defense.

About the Author:

Denver-based criminal defense and DUI attorney Jacob E. Martinez is a knowledgeable and experienced litigator with a record of success providing innovative solutions to clients facing criminal charges of any severity. Mr. Martinez has been designated a Top 100 Trial Lawyer by the National Trial Lawyers and has been awarded both the Avvo Client’s Choice Award and Avvo Top Attorney designation, evidencing his reputation for his exemplary criminal and DUI defense work and high moral standards.