Posted on: 7 July 2020Share
As the news zeroes in on protestors who are pulling down statues, you may wonder if joining in would bring legal consequences to your doorstep. Can you be arrested for helping tear down a statue? Can you be charged with a crime?
This is what you need to know.
The Short Answer
In short, it is a crime to deface or destroy property like statues. Technically, you could be charged with a crime based on your participation. While people may have different opinions as to whether this should be a crime or whether charges should be brought forth, the thing you need to know is that they could be.
The Specific Charges
When it comes to the specific charges you may face, you may find that the charges vary from case to case. The charges you face could depend on where you live, your age, and your level of participation.
For instance, some people who have participated in these actions have been charged with crimes like inciting a riot, theft, possessing stolen property, vandalism, trespassing, and more. Often these charges stem from the use of surveillance videos or photos and videos posted to social media. Often, large groups of people may face the same or similar charges for defacing or destroying the same piece.
Keep in mind that more evidence means you could face steeper charges. For instance, you could face heftier charges if you are seen on video participating in more individual crimes than others in the group. For instance, you might be seen spray painting the statue, tearing it down, and then taking part of it with you when you leave. You may face more charges than somebody who is seen only spray painting the figure.
The Next Steps
After you are arrested on these charges, you may need to pay bail. Based on the circumstances, the judge may require you to pay bail or will release you on your own recognizance. In some cases, the charges are dropped. In others, the case goes to trial.
Your next step is to speak with a criminal defense attorney. An attorney understands that many people are passionately representing themselves in rallies and protests. Sometimes, people are charged without evidence or because so-called evidence causes someone to misinterpret the events. Some protesters are falsely accused of these actions or misidentified in videos and photos.
A criminal lawyer represents your rights in court, helping you receive the most beneficial outcome.