Weinstein Law Blog

Friday, September 9, 2016

Free Speech

What is Free Speech?

              Generally, free speech is “protected speech” from governmental intrusion.  The key here is that the government is not allowed to curtail or retaliate for an individual’s speech.  However, in the private realm, there is no constitutional protection for free speech.  “Speech” has been interpreted as protected varying forms of speech, including the lack of speaking.  Applying current events: when Colin Kaepernick did not stand for the National Anthem, this was not protected speech because the NFL is a private organization.

This Civil Right is famously found in the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and applied to the individual states via the Fourteenth Amendment, within the Equal Protection Clause.  Moreover, the New York State Constitution also provides for a protection of speech in Article I, sections 8 and 9, as well as through some specific statutes.

How do I Know if my Right to Free Speech Has Been Violated?

              Aside from going to a competent and knowledgeable lawyer, you need to ask yourself the following questions:

  1. What did I say?
  2. Under what circumstances did I say it?
  3. What, if any, result was there to what I said?
  4. How did I suffer for saying what I said? And
  5. Did the government have any involvement?

Does the Government Have to be Involved in a Free Speech Violation?

              No.  Many laws prevent private violations of free speech as well.  Private companies can get into deep water when they retaliate against an employee based on whistleblowing protections.  Individuals are subject to censure when they engage in incitement or terroristic speech.  There are MANY exceptions that have been carved out over the years and an experienced and knowledgeable attorney is the best counsel to turn to when you have a question.

What can I do When my Right to Free Speech Has Been Violated?

              You should contact a knowledgeable civil rights lawyer immediately.  Often, the First Amendment violation is but one of many wrongs you would have suffered.  For example, if you are peacefully protesting and you get arrested for only yelling at the police – your First Amendment and Fourth Amendment Rights may have been violated.

              The freedom of expression is so very fundamental to our society that it must be protected at all times.  Because the government is often the aggressor, it is imperative that you reach out to a competent and knowable attorney for guidance to any free speech violation.


For a confidential consultation, call the Law Office of Jacob Z. Weinstein, PLLC 

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As a former prosecutor, I fully understand the power law enforcement has. As a trial attorney, I know the law seems very scary.