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Author Topic: Assault or freedom of speech?  (Read 11447 times)

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Zara

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Assault or freedom of speech?
« on: January 19, 2007, 07:46:57 PM »

In my WIP, the MC is the President's daughter. After a press conference, a man  runs past secret service and goes straight to her father to give him a piece of his mind.

Is that a crime? Would the person go to jail?

Thanks in advance for any advice

Zara
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JIM DOHERTY

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Re: Assault or freedom of speech?
« Reply #1 on: January 19, 2007, 08:03:23 PM »

Zara,

Shouting at the president from a crowd probably isn't a crime.  Rushing past the Secret Service protective ring is . . . unlikely.  Somebody would at least get their hands on him and if he resisted and persisted in his attempt to get to the president and give him a piece of his mind, that would be a crime.  If he had no violent intention toward the president other than letting him know what he thinks of the current policies, there would probably be no crime vis-a-vis the president, but the Secret Service agents would be able to arrest him for rushing past their physical blockade and resisting.

Elena

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Re: Assault or freedom of speech?
« Reply #2 on: January 19, 2007, 10:19:55 PM »

What struck my eye was that the scene is a press conference.  These are attended by invitation only.  If a news agency wants to send a different reporter than usual there will be a background check.  There are no unknown attendees, they have to wear special badges, they have to submit their questions before the event - it is highly controlled.

There would also be an investigation to find out how this loose cannon got the proper credentials to get in.  I agree with Jim, that it is unlikely he could get close enough to the president long enough to say anything coherent.  He would most likely wind up on the floor, under a pile of agents with everyone yelling.

I have no idea if he would ultimately go to jail or not, but he certainly would be detained until there was a resolution to all the questions which could last a number of weeks or months.

Elena
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Eric

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Re: Assault or freedom of speech?
« Reply #3 on: January 20, 2007, 12:01:24 AM »

For background reading, Zara, I'll recommend Lee Childs' Without Fail.  You'll learn a lot about Secret Service protocols.

Eric
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Zara

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Re: Assault or freedom of speech?
« Reply #4 on: January 20, 2007, 04:39:43 AM »

The guy pass the security cord and resist arrest before the president enters his car. He doesn't have the time to do anything, he's placated on the ground and brought away from the first couple. No harm done, but I'd like to know if he'll do time for his stunt.

Zara
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Elena

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Re: Assault or freedom of speech?
« Reply #5 on: January 20, 2007, 09:21:29 AM »

I see, he wasn't actually at the press conference - good move  :D

I would say he would go to jail - resisting arrest is a chargeable offense.  And, tickling the back of my mind I think recently there has been an increase in severity in punishment for people who do that sort of thing.  The thinking is that you have no idea if the person is trying to kill the president or not, so the assumption is yes.  Unless someone else has information to the contrary I think you can safely put him behind bars.  He certainly would be there while they sort everything out.

It is definitely not a freedom of speech issue.  Freedom of speech allows you to say anything you want, but not necessarily anywhere.  Certainly not to the president uninvited.  in general the concept of freedom of speech does not include forcing, in any way, your thoughts upon a person or group.

You are right about the assault part though.  While it isn't used separately a whole lot (usally the charge escalates to assault and battery), assault is a chargeable offense by itself. 

Elena
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Zara

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Re: Assault or freedom of speech?
« Reply #6 on: January 21, 2007, 12:57:48 AM »

Thanks everyone,
I'll look up Lee Childs' book, the problem is, it will take two weeks to get here.
For now, I'll work on the story as is . The story happens in a fictitious country, I can take liberties on sentensing (I think) but I wanted to be realistic. The guy has to be out of jail in one month (to kill him when he comes out of prison  ;D --  :o Not funny, I know) I'm working on a tight timeline -- 1 month per chapter -- If needed, I'll go for pleading insanity...

Thanks again,

Zara
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Elena

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Re: Assault or freedom of speech?
« Reply #7 on: January 21, 2007, 01:28:56 PM »

Zara, I can't resist - knowing you are dealing with a fictional country opens up more possibilities than does the current situation here.

Perhaps the man has contacts that make the incumbent reluctant to make a big deal and the man is released whenever works for you.
Or, maybe he was drunk.
Or, maybe he was actually yelling from the sides and was shoved by someone who wanted to make trouble.
Or, maybe the powers behind the president didn't want negative attention from the media at the moment and got him released.
Or, he was hurt so badly that when they found him at the bottom of a pile of Secret Service men they took him to the hospital and then he was released from there by accident, instead of being taken into custody.

You can easily get him released in a month.

Good luck with your deadlines,
Elena
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Dave Freas

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Re: Assault or freedom of speech?
« Reply #8 on: January 21, 2007, 02:11:25 PM »

To add a little bit to something Elena said:
Or, maybe the powers behind the president didn't want negative attention from the media at the moment and got him released.
Elena
Maybe because the men who took him down were a little (a lot?) overzealous and roughed him up more than necessary in the process of stopping him?

Just a thought.

Dave
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JIM DOHERTY

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Re: Assault or freedom of speech?
« Reply #9 on: January 21, 2007, 02:21:58 PM »

Zara,

I've been on Presidential protection details, only on the fringes, but there.

If this is taking place in a foreign county, then one of the circles of security around the President is going to be the local cops in that country, just as local cops here back up the Secret Service and/or State Dept Security and the foreign cops when a foreign dignitary is visiting the States.

Think of the president (or other protectee) as being at the center of a series of concentric circles made up of local cops, Secret Service uniformed officers, Secret Service agents at some remove from the president, and Secret Service agents near the president.

Once, during a presidential visit, another officer and I were posted on the roof of a building next to the building the president was going to be in as a check against snipers using it as a firing perch.  That gives you an idea how far out the security extends.  And it gets thicker the closer to the center of the circle you get.

A determined person can get past it, but he's not going to have time to engage the president in sprited debate.

BTW, if this is a foreign, fictional country, it occurs to me that the legal question you originally posted is essentially moot.  You can make the laws in your fictional country do to your character exactly what your plot calls for.  You're the final legislative body in this fictional country.

Zara

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Re: Assault or freedom of speech?
« Reply #10 on: January 21, 2007, 07:52:04 PM »

Thanks again,

As was said in another post not so long ago, just talking about it brought the answer.

I've been a participant to presidential trips -- on the delegation side -- and have a fairly good knowledge of how it happens. (How time flies. Sigh! It was another lifetime ago)

I was not very specific in my post, I'm sorry if I confused you. I'm one track minded and sometimes the details I omitted jump up to me when I see the confusion I created.

This character has just one use in the whole picture, it's to be killed by the serial killer stalking the president's daughter. The poor man's mistake was to dare frighten her... (I don't want to go in a lot of procedures, his doing a year time won't work for my timeline)


Zara
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