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Can I be charged with a crime simply for being at a protest?

With everything going on, one question we have been getting recently is whether you can be charged with a crime for simply being at a protest. The answer is it depends. The Ohio Constitution and the First Amendment to the United State Constitution provide for certain rights. These rights include:

· The right to speak out in "traditional public forums," such as streets, sidewalks, and parks. You also likely have the right to speak out on other public property as long as you are not blocking access to the public building or interfering with business on the property.

· The right to photograph anything in plain view in public spaces.

Despite these rights, we have seen numerous individuals charged through Hamilton County courts as a result of protests in Cincinnati. Even if you are not actively protesting, you could still be potentially charged with a crime.

One primary way we have seen individuals charged is with a curfew violation. Cincinnati and surrounding communities have recently enacted curfews. As a result, even if you are not protesting, if you are found outside past curfew you could be charged unless you have a legitimate reason, such as coming or going from work as an essential employee.

Alternatively, despite the rights outlined above, you may still be charged if you are on private property. Even if you aren't protesting there is still the risk of being charged with a trespassing violation on private property.

If you have been charged with any of these offenses, please feel free to contact our office at 513-932-2115. We are aggressively defending individuals charged with crimes as a result of protests and our able to use our experience and resources to assist you.

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Rittgers & Rittgers, Attorneys at Law

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