New "Anti-Riot" Bill (HB-1): What Is It and What to Do If You’re Arrested?
Protests, rallies, and demonstrations are some of the ways for people to make their voices heard. Throughout history, these activities proved effective in advocating social change. The best examples are the Anti-Vietnam War protest (November 15, 1969), Solidarity Day (March 1981), People's Climate March (September 21, 2014), and the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom with Martin Luther King Jr (August 28, 1963). But in Florida, it seems that the newly minted Anti-Riot Bill (HB-1) could put an end to these activities.
“With the passage of HB 1, the Florida Legislature has answered Governor DeSantis’ call to uphold the rights of our state’s residents while protecting businesses and supporting our brave men and women in law enforcement,” as per the statement from the office of the governor. But as civil advocates would have it, this law is only going to suppress citizens from raising their concerns. In the words of Micah Kubic, ACLU Florida executive director, “HB 1 is racist, unconstitutional, and anti-democratic, plain and simple.”
New "Anti-Riot" bill or HB-1: What Is It?
Considering the controversies surrounding this law, it’s best to know it a little better. In summary, HB1 covers the following:
No “defunding” the law enforcement agency
A gathering of three or more people without a permit or simply "standing on or remaining in the street, highway, or road" could be considered a violation to the HB1 law
Verbal threat to use force is now considered assault
Mob intimidation, which used to be a first-degree misdemeanor, is now a crime.
Punishments and Sanctions
HB1 also imposes harsher punishments on people doing violent protests. Based on a report, offenders of this law could face the following sanctions and punishments:
6 months of minimum jail time for those caught assaulting a police officer “in furtherance of a riot”
Destroying flags, memorials, etc. is considered a second-degree felony
Arrested offenders stay behind bars until their first court appearance
What to Do If You’re Caught Protesting?
Do you have loved ones, relatives, or friends who are fond of joining demonstrations? Or are you into participating in these kinds of activities? If yes, be sure that you’re prepared for the possibility of arrests. When caught protesting and facing a charge related to the new HB1 law, make sure to do the following:
Keep your calm.
Use your right to remain silent.
Don’t use force, either physically or verbally, against a law enforcement officer.
Contact a reputable legal counsel.
Whatever legal concerns you may have, Attorney Tom McGuire and his team at Panhandle Defense Firm might be able to help. The Panhandle Defense team is known in the Florida area as a reliable team that could help individuals achieve a reasonable and desirable result for different cases.