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The First Amendment and Disorderly Conduct: C.R.S. 18-9-106

Is swearing at a police officer considered Disorderly Conduct in Colorado jurisdictions like Arapahoe, Douglas, and Adams County? Well, apparently police officers think so, even though such language is clearly protect by our First Amendment right to free speech.

Colorado's Disorderly Conduct law (C.R.S. 18-9-106) encompasses a lot of so-called disorderly behavior, including speech that "tends to incite an immediate breach of the peace." This type of language, which the Supreme Court has determined is not protected by the First Amendment, is commonly referred to as "fighting words." However, merely cursing at another person, including law enforcement, is not enough to amount to fighting words.

However, the Aurora, Lakewood, and Westminster police, believing that they are above our constitutional protections, keep charging people with Disorderly Conduct for swearing at them or "flipping them the bird." They might want to be careful though, seeing as how one such man who was charged with Disorderly Conduct was recently awarded a $20,000 settlement after he sued Boulder County.

The O'Malley Law Office was recently hired to defend a Client who is facing speech related charges out of a Colorado city because she cursed at a police officer. Although we are likely to get her charges dismissed on First Amendment grounds, it is frustrating that she even has to deal with this in the first place. Any time the government oversteps its power and interferes in your constitutionally protected freedoms, you need an experienced attorney who can fight for your rights.

Do not let the prosecutors in Broomfield, Jefferson, or Denver County make you feel like a criminal because of your speech. If you are charged with Disorderly Conduct, or another crime protected by the First Amendment, be smart, exercise your right to remain silent and call us today at 303-731-0719. Together, we can protect your future.

For further reading on this subject see: Denver Post Free Speech Blog.

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