Being arrested is a frightening and terribly vexing experience. If it is your first time going through it, you may be unsure of what to do. You are not alone. As hundreds of thousands of ordinary Americans attend rallies and participate in protests against racism, the response by the police in many instances has been over aggressive. If you have been taken into custody for protesting peacefully in a public space, you have the right to adequate counsel. Do not allow yourself to be silenced or bullied. You should exercise your right to adequate counsel and protect your ability to petition your government for a redress of grievances.

What You Should and Should Not Do

The country has stood witness over the last few weeks to the sight of police breaking up crowds of peaceful protestors—sometimes brutally—and taking them to jail. This is not right, it is unconstitutional, and you should not be deterred by it. If you are determined to have your voice heard, if you intend to join the growing Black Lives Matter movement, then you should know your rights ahead of time.

If you are arrested during a peaceful protest, you should submit to the arresting officer. Do not offer any physical resistance. From that time forward, you should say nothing to the officers until you have spoken to your attorney. You have a Fifth Amendment right to remain silent, and you should exercise it. The one thing you should not do is sign any document or make any statement that implies your guilt. You have done nothing wrong, and there is no reason for you to make a confession.

Next Steps To Protecting Your Right To Adequate Counsel

In many instances, a lawyer will be employed by activist groups to represent all protestors who are arrested. Your right to adequate counsel cannot be curbed by anyone, even those who seem to be on your side. If you do not believe that the lawyer sent by an activist group will represent your interests, then you can refuse them. You can then seek your own legal counsel to deal with your arrest.

An effective lawyer, such as one from Guymon & Hendron, will have you out of jail in little time, as prosecutors have no case against someone who was engaged in peaceful protest. As you go forward, remember two things: black lives matter and you have a right to adequate counsel.