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Desecration of the flag

Discussion in 'Constitutional Law & Civil Rights' started by Refinats, Sep 11, 2020.

  1. Refinats

    Refinats Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Jurisdiction:
    Tennessee
    I have a warrant for my arrest because i burnt the American flag. The exact charge is “ Desecration of a venerated object”. After my neighbor and I got into a heated political discussion, I ,in my drunkin state, took a little American flag from the dollar tree Out of my flower pot and burnt it. The neighbor called the cops after I left. I found out after failing a background check today that there is a warrant for my arrest because of it. How is that possible when the Supreme Court ruled that’s protected free speech? I’d like to sue!
     
  2. justblue

    justblue Well-Known Member

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    Warrant for desecration of flag

    The thread down the street.

    Refinats, I posted the link to your other thread so that the members here can see what you have already been told so they don't repeat what you were advised on FA.
     
    Refinats likes this.
  3. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    You need to KNOW exactly what the warrant says is the basis for yoru arrest.

    It might NOT be for the "flag incident", it might be for "failure to appear", or perhaps another charge.

    At any rate, you need to take care of the warrant.
    A bail agency might be able to tell you more.
    Then you need to appear in court to plead NOT guilty and seek the services of a criminal defense attorney.
    Until you have hired a lawyer. STOP speaking to anyone about this "episode".
    If the cops arrest you, make sure you INVOKE, as in say, "I wish to use my RIGHTS to remain silent and have an attorney represent me."

    It is okay to state your name, address, etc...; just be sure to say NOTHING about the "episode" or anything else for that matter.

    Name, address, date of birth, telephone number, marital status, etc... (biographical and demographic data ONLY).
     
    leslie82 likes this.
  4. mightymoose

    mightymoose Moderator

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    it may be that the prior Supreme Court decisions on the matter only applied to the state laws where those issues originated. A reading of those cases may reveal how they were intended to be applied.

    It appears that the Tennessee law is still valid. That it may ultimately be invalidated in light of the SCOTUS decisions does not mean you have been wronged. You may have a good defense to present, but you have not been convicted yet. The matter has not yet been heard in court.

    I don't see you being successful suing anyone over this. You acknowledge that you violated a state law, and a warrant is a reasonable outcome even if you were unaware of the law. I do suspect this will not be prosecuted though.
     
  5. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Super Moderator

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    You need to stop drinking and join AA.
     
    Disabled Vet likes this.
  6. Tax Counsel

    Tax Counsel Well-Known Member

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    The Supreme Court held that a defendant convicted on violating a similar law in Texas was wrongfully convicted because under the facts of his case the application of the law violated his first amendment right to free speech. The Court did not hold the law itself unconstitutional. Rather, what the court held was that when the flag burning was done to convey a message or express an opinion that is protected free speech that the state cannot penalize.

    Thus, it is not the case that all flag burning is protected by the Constitution. The OP would have to make the case that he did the flag burning to express his views, and that others would understand it that way to get the protection of the First Amendment.


    Yes, it is, subject to the limitations of the Constitution discussed above.

    I disagree. The OP has not acknowledged that. And indeed, the state statute is a bit vague in that it does not really define what it means to desecrate the flag. Not all burning of the flag would be desecration, after all, given that the Flag Code specifically says that burning a flag is a proper way to retire a worn out flag. So what exactly does the state mean when it says one cannot "desecrate" the flag? That vagueness is another potential weak spot for the state.
     
  7. mightymoose

    mightymoose Moderator

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    Fair enough... Whether the law was violated is ultimately for a court to determine. However, apparently the circumstances were significant enough that a judge recognized probable cause and signed off on a warrant. My own experience is that judges don't issue warrants willy nilly and are annoyed with the petty stuff. There really must be more to the scenario IMO.
     
  8. Refinats

    Refinats Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Already have. Thank you tho!
     
  9. Disabled Vet

    Disabled Vet Active Member

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    I think you shouldn't be charged... I think you should have your ass beat. :)
     
  10. Tax Counsel

    Tax Counsel Well-Known Member

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    There may not be. Judges only get the facts the police or prosecutor provide in the affidavit, and of course they'll make it look like the crime was committed in that application for the warrant. Probable cause is not at all a high standard, and when the charge is a misdemeanor my experience is that judges don't spend much time really debating whether to sign the warrant. If the affidavit says enough that the state may have a case, the warrant gets signed. That's still a long way from securing the conviction.
     
  11. Refinats

    Refinats Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Why for exercising my free speech and doing what I want with my own property? Sounds like you’d be better off in North Korea!
     

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