Getting arrested is never a fun ordeal. Being read your rights, getting processed and sitting in a jail cell awaiting your fate is enough to rattle any person. Could you imagine facing that on a regular basis because it’s your job? Being falsely arrested can be an occupational hazard of being a journalist. And though these journalists have the right to cover events like protests, their rights are sometimes ignored by law enforcement. Here’s what they do to when faced with inappropriate criminal charges.
When Falsely Arrested, What Do Journalists Do?
- Be Prepared– Before sending a reporter out into the field to cover a news story like a protest or a riot, editorial staff at news organizations get prepared. They update their contacts to make sure they know who to call. They make sure to have the phone numbers to people in the police department and at city hall, and they also make sure they have hired an attorney. Though you may not be able to do everything a news organization can to prepare for an arrest, knowledge and having an attorney you trust can make a big difference if you ever face any charges.
- Make a Story– When falsely arrested, many reporters will find themselves at the center of a story that their news organization publishes. This is done to amplify and educate people about what was done and why it was wrong that the reporter was arrested. The organizations take the extra step because it helps educate people about their first amendment rights, so if you see one of these stories in the paper, pay attention to it, you may learn something you didn’t know about your rights.
- Resistance Is Futile– Every reporter is told one very important piece of advice when they go out into the field for an assignment where they could be arrested. If you are arrested, don’t struggle. Struggling in any form can cause reporters to be charged with crimes that their rights to free speech can’t protect them from. So, every reporter is told only to identify themselves as press and then do whatever the officer says. This is important to keep the journalist from being charged with any other crimes, and to keep them safe. An officer could respond with force if you or a journalist resists arrest.
As a matter of their line of work, journalist face arrest on a regular basis, and though you may not have a job that deals with such dangers, you can learn from them. In a situation where you are pulled over and arrested, take a page from a reporter. Cooperate with officers, identify yourself but don’t say anything else and be prepared to contact a criminal defense attorney.
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