Friday, September 23, 2011

Denver criminal defense lawyer / right to free speech

The right to free speech is a little bit of a different right than the other rights I've talked about here, like your right to remain silent or your right to a Denver criminal defense lawyer. At the same time, it's in the First Amendment, so obviously it's the most important, right? Well, sort of. Generally your right to free speech lets you say anything you want. You can tell a cop to shove it (though that's probably not smart), you can criticize the president, you can say racist stuff, and none of it is a crime. No matter how nasty the stuff you say is, generally your Denver criminal defense lawyer will be able to argue that your right to speak is protected by the First Amendment, and you'll be off scot-free. The law you're convicted by is probably actually not even allowed to exist.

There are a couple of reasons why the government can make speech against the law. A lot of them apply to civil litigation. In some cases if you say something inaccurate and damaging, you can get sued. But since this is a Denver criminal defense lawyer blog, we'll only talk about the criminal applications. Basically there are two reasons that speech can be a crime. The first is for either a call to violent action or a threat of violent action. If you speak at a Klan rally where everyone has guns, and you scream "let's go kill some black people," that is a call to violent action. But it can't be a vague call to action. You have to know the people you are calling to action are actually going to listen, and you have to know they are capable of doing it. So writing a manifesto about overthrowing the U.S. government would be OK.

The second is a little weird. It's called a breach of the peace. In some cases, the stuff you say will be apparently so annoying that it will actually cause violent action. That's a breach of the peace. Why it's the fault of the guy who said the annoying or offensive thing that the other guy punched him is unclear to me, but I don't make the law. The Supreme Court does by interpreting the constitution. So there you have it. Mostly your right to speak is protected, except in a few cases where it's a crime.

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