After the killing of George Floyd, mass protests and demonstrations took place across the country, including in Frisco and surrounding Texas communities. Americans have the right to peaceably assemble under the First Amendment, and generally, protests are not illegal in the United States. However, there are limitations to your right to assemble. Protestors can be criminally charged if they commit unlawful acts while protesting.
Although most Black Lives Matter protests were peaceful in Texas, many protestors were charged with crimes. Below are some of the most common crimes associated with the riots and protests in Frisco, Texas.
- Violation of Curfew
On May 31, 2020, Dallas and surrounding neighborhoods set a curfew from 7 PM to 6 AM. The curfew prohibited individuals from traveling on any public street or being in any public space (e.g., roads, highways, sidewalks, parks, parking lots, and vacant properties) during the set hours. There were certain exceptions, including traveling to or from work and seeking medical attention.
Violation of curfew is punishable by a fine of not less than $50 and not more than $1,000 and/or up to 180 days in jail.
- Disorderly Conduct
Disorderly conduct is a broad charge that covers a wide range of situations. Generally, it criminalizes behavior that is likely to upset, scare, offend, or endanger others. Examples of acts that constitute disorderly conduct include making excessive noise in a public place and fighting in public.
Disorderly conduct is most often classified as a Class C misdemeanor, penalized by a maximum fine of $500. However, if the crime involved a firearm, it is increased to a Class B misdemeanor.
- Evading Arrest
An individual can be convicted of evading arrest if he or she intentionally flees from a police officer attempting to lawfully arrest or detain him or her. To be convicted, the individual must know that the person is a police officer, and the underlying arrest must have been lawful.
Evading arrest is a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in county jail and a fine not to exceed $10,000. You will be subject to harsher penalties if the crime involved a vehicle or you have prior convictions.
- Riot Participation
According to Texas Penal Code §42.02, a riot is defined as a gathering of seven or more people that endangers property or people, obstructs law enforcement or government functions, or deprives a person of his or her legal rights by force or threat of force.
Typically, riot participation is classified as a Class B misdemeanor and punishable by a maximum fine of $2,000 and jail time not to exceed 180 days.
You could be charged with trespassing while protesting if you went on private property without the owner’s permission. In most cases, it is charged as a Class B misdemeanor and punishable by up to six months in jail and a $2,000 fine.
If you were looting during the riots, you could be charged with theft. A person commits theft when they steal property. Theft is either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the value of the property stolen.
- Criminal Mischief
You can be charged with criminal mischief in Texas if you damage, destroy, or tamper with the property. This crime includes acts such as toppling or spray-painting statues.
Typically, criminal mischief is charged as a Class B misdemeanor in Frisco and punishable by up to six months in jail and a $2,000 fine. However, the charge can be bumped up, depending on the amount of loss resulting from the damage done.
- Obstructing Roadways
Typically, advanced permits are required for demonstrations that will block highways and streets. If you do not have a permit and take over freeways and bridges while protesting, you can be charged with obstructing roadways.
An obstructing roadways offense is a Class B misdemeanor and punishable by up to six months in jail and a $2,000 fine.
- Resisting Arrest
A person can be convicted of resisting arrest when he intentionally uses force to prevent or obstruct a person he knows is a police officer from effecting an arrest, search, or transportation. You can be convicted of resisting arrest, even if the underlying crime was unlawful.
In most cases, resisting arrest is treated a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by a maximum fine of $4,000 and/or a maximum jail sentence of 1 year.
Your Frisco Criminal Defense Attorney
If you or a loved one was arrested while protesting in Frisco or surrounding communities, you should contact the Law Offices of Philip D. Ray. Philip D. Ray is an experienced Frisco attorney who will make sure that your rights are protected. Call Philip D. Ray today to schedule a consultation at (214) 845-7987.