When you’re considering how to interact with the police, people will often tell you that you should be respectful and that you should never be rude or aggressive. They’ll warn you that acting this way can escalate an encounter with the police. It may have been a simple traffic stop, but insulting the police officer or being rude in other ways could lead to an arrest.
But is this true? The implication is that it’s illegal simply to be rude to a police officer in the United States, which seems to fly in the face of your First Amendment right to free speech.
It’s a complicated issue
This is such a complicated situation because you do have a right to free speech and is not illegal to insult a police officer or be rude to them. You don’t technically have to be respectful, and you can’t be arrested simply for saying something that an officer doesn’t like.
However, acting this way is a surefire way to get the police to treat you in a more hostile manner. A police officer who may have let you off with a warning is much more likely to give you that speeding ticket if you’re not respectful.
There are also situations where the police will claim that you were obstructing justice, resisting arrest, acting in a threatening manner, trying to start a physical altercation or something else along these lines. You may say that you were just being rude or insulting, which is legal, but they may claim it was much more and use that as the basis for an arrest.
Of course, just getting arrested doesn’t mean you’re guilty of anything illegal. Be sure you know about all the defense options you have.