You CAN say what you want to say. But consider the consequences.
I know my Rights! (Do you?)
We’ve all said, thought, or heard someone cry out that they know their First Amendment Constitutional rights, right? But honestly, excluding those in certain professions, who truly knows what their First Amendment rights mean?
Most people revere the First Amendment of the United States Constitution and think of it as the “Holy Grail of Gab,” in other words, your ABSOLUTE right to speak as freely as you please. Most people, it turns out, are wrong.
Of Course You Have Rights, Within Reason
The Constitution does not give us the right to say just anything. Like almost every single law of our nation, our First Amendment rights come with some exceptions.
The constitution literally says that Congress shall make no law “abridging the freedom of speech.” You CAN pretty much say what you want to say. But if what you say hurts someone there can be consequences.
In constitutional terms, “freedom of speech” really means “You have the right to speak within reason.” (Shout out to the reasonable man, law students!) Basically, “within reason” means that your words are not allowed to cause serious damage. That is why you can sue for slander and libel and have someone arrested for making threats to your safety.
You can only assert your free speech rights to the Government, not to your employer, unless you work for the government, and even then your position could require public impartiality. You can’t assert your First Amendment rights against a private individual either. Sorry but if your mom doesn’t want you to use the word “orange” in her home, then she is allowed to kick you out for saying it. It is important to understand that what you say to an individual could result in government action against you!
It Boils Down To This
The constitution essentially says that the government can’t stop you from saying things, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be held responsible for what you say if it causes harm to others. Your hot-headed comments to or about your significant other, your bull-headed family member, or other associates, can can have consequences.
We see this in our domestic relations cases every day. What you may think of as just an outburst of anger, and excuse as “I didn’t really mean it,” is being viewed by Courts as threats, and taken very seriously. We see plenty of Orders of Protection issued because of what people say. Domestic abuse does not have to be physical harm or direct threats to anyone’s life; it can be a statement or act that puts a person in fear of harm. Harm and fear of harm = DAMAGE, and we just learned that your First Amendment right does not allow you to cause damage.
What to Do If You’re Angry
If you find yourself wanting to express anger, you should express it to yourself and alone before speaking out loud and around or to anyone else. The point that you want to make by expressing your anger could lead to criminal assault or terroristic threatening or other similar charges or an Order of Protection, or it could simply be used against you in your divorce or custody case to make you seem unstable and dangerous.
Consequences of an Order of Protection
An Order of Protection can lead to an accuser having a semi-criminal action against you and that person can use it to gain temporary custody and property without having a divorce or custody hearing or case before the Court. Semi-criminal in this context means that it will be reported in background checks, it affects your gun rights and restricts your freedom of movement and speech to some degree, and if it is determined that you have violated any provision of the Order, you may be criminally charged.
If you have been charged criminally or have an Order of Protection either entered against you or pending, then you should consult with an attorney.
We Can Help
If you are looking for effective legal representation in Arkansas that won’t break the bank, look for us at lionlegal.com. We will help you figure out your options and what the likely realistic result is in your circumstances. Say the word and we’ll come Roaring to the Rescue!