Freedom of expression land you in jail?: Get the right help.

July 23, 2013 at 2:21 am

Artist in JailEveryone has an opinion and, hopefully, the freedom to express that opinion. Speech or various artistic forms of expression are bound to have opponents and sometimes it can have unfortunate consequences. In the United States, we are protected by the first amendment which gives the freedom of speech/expression. However, there are still limitations and these limitations go by the names of libel and slander. Libel is defamation by print or another other form other than spoken word or gestures. Slander is an untruth about someone spoken with malicious intent. Art comes in many different forms, whether it be a street performer or Picasso, and any time a piece of art is made it comes with the implication that someone may possibly be offended by the message. A street artist in New York was arrested for placing ads on bus stops that poked fun at the NYPD by saying “Drones: Protection When You Least Expect It”. He was arrested by the police, which the irony is not lost on, but proves that there are limits to how far an individual’s freedom of expression goes.

Other examples of art having bad consequences: an American photographer created a controversial photo entitled “Piss Christ” which depicted Jesus on the cross submerged in a bottle of urine. The photograph elicited controversy for decades.  Another artist by the name of Anna Sin’kova, a resident of Ukraine, was found frying eggs over an eternal flame that burns in remembrance of fallen soldiers and the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany. A video of the act exists and reveals that there are police officers watching Anna perform the stunt, but did not try to stop here. However, three months later she was arrested for “desecrating a grave.” She was refused to be released on bail.

Sin’kova says that she sees the placement not as a grave, but a “propaganda for a totalitarian communist regime.” To her, the old memorial does not resonate the same way it does with others. There are those that do agree with her, however, and see her actions as acceptable within the rights of her expression and have raised their voices in her defense. She says that upon her return from jail she will fight for the causes she believes in. If she wasn’t prohibited from being released on bail she might have been able to get back to that cause sooner. Unfortunately, bail can be denied for a variety of reasons in different countries. If bail is denied, the defendant is allowed to apply for bail at their court hearing. Unless there is a strong reason to deny bail, the defendant will be released. If an artist is arrested after putting a piece of their work on display they should seek bail, especially if they feel that they were wrongly accused of libel or slander for their work.

Having a lawyer that can successfully defend your case using the amendment rights will help ensure the case swings in you favor. In the unfortunate event that you have been arrested, keep calm and know that you have rights protecting you, but don’t rely on your rights alone. In order to ensure that you’re out of jail in time to prepare your case with a qualified defense attorney, you need to choose the right bail bonds company to secure your freedom. This isn’t as easy as it sounds. You need to focus on finding a bail bondsman who is both trustworthy and nearby. If you call one bail bonds company, and they tell you they will be there shortly to bail you out, and never show up, it could mean several more days in jail before you can get ahold of another and make your way out. Many times, it’s family members making these phone calls on your behalf, you need a qualified bail bondsman to get the job done. With regard to their being nearby, lets say for the sake of argument that your loved one was arrested and brought to jail in Los Angles. If they call a bail bonds in Whittier, or Orange County bail bonds, such as ChiefBail.com, they can usually be there in about an hour to get them bailed out. If on the other hand you reach a San Diego bail bonds company, it could literally take hours for them to arrive.

Above all, don’t make the mistake of taking you or your loved one’s arrest lightly. It’s a serious event when anyone is arrested, and even more serious when someone’s freedom of expression rights are being trampled on. Take the right steps post-arrest to ensure you or your loved ones are bailed out and on the path to justice as soon as possible.