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Anti-Protesting Bill Passes in TN

A controversial new law in our state targets protesters. If you have been impacted and are facing criminal charges, call our experienced law firm today.

Protesting is a fundamental right that is protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and has been recognized over the ages as one of the most effective ways to drive change in society. Following the killing of George Floyd, protesters came out in droves in multiple cities throughout the United States; Tennessee was no exception. Indeed, protesters peacefully occupied space on the War Memorial Plaza across from the state capitol for two months, demanding to speak with Governor Bill Lee, who refused to meet with them.

As reported by the Times Free Press, in an effort to crack down on protesters, legislators passed a bill, which has been signed into law by Governor Lee, that increases penalties for protesting-related offenses. Here is what you need to know.

Legislation Increases Penalties for Protesting

The bill, which was passed 25-7 and signed into law on August 20, 2020, increases the penalties for a wide variety of protesting-related offenses. These include, but are not limited to:

In some cases, offenses that were misdemeanor crimes could now result in felony charges, and some come with a mandatory minimum incarceration period. Felony charges are incredibly serious and can result in a loss of voting and other privileges if resulting in a conviction.

Senator John Stevens, a Republican representing Huntington, was clear about his opinion on any concerns from others regarding felony charges and losing the right to vote. “They want a revolution. They want to disagree with our notion of a civil society,” said Stevens. He added that those charged with the above offenses deserve losing their right to vote if they “don’t want to participate in our form of government by overthrowing it with a revolution.”

What to do if You are Charged with a Felony for Protesting

As stated above, protesting is a fundamental right. However, some activities that are often associated with protesting, like camping on state grounds, could result in serious criminal charges. If you are charged with a crime, it is important that you know what to do.

First, we recommend cooperating with the police to the extent possible (providing your name, not resisting arrest, etc.) without saying anything additional. Remember, you have the right to remain silent.

Next, we recommend requesting an attorney as soon as possible. You have the right to legal counsel - failing to exercise this right could be costly to the outcome of your case.

Call the Office of Burch, Morrison, & Stewart Today

At the law office of Burch, Morrison, and Stewart, we understand the law and the consequences under it. If you are facing charges for a protesting-related offense, we can help. Our lawyers will aggressively advocate for you and work hard to protect your rights and best interests. For a consultation with our experienced criminal defense lawyers in Tennessee,please call us directly or send us a confidential message. We are here to fight for you.

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