Earlier this year, Attorney Jerry Wallentine was contacted by a man who
had been charged with
disorderly conduct. According to reports of the incident, he had allegedly scared a teenager
by yelling and cussing in a frightening manner—which subsequently
resulted in his arrest. Once Mr. Wallentine had the chance to look over
the case, however, he decided that the circumstances of the incident didn't
rise to the level of disorderly conduct. Since freedom of speech is protected
under the First Amendment of the United States Constitution, the only
way that his client would be guilty of violating the law is if he had
intentionally directed offensive speech, or "fighting words,"
at the teenager in a public place.
This precedent was set in 1942 by the milestone case,
Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire. In this United States Supreme Court case, it was determined that the fighting
words doctrine is a limitation of the First Amendment's protections.
This means that the government cannot generally prohibit citizens from
speaking their mind in a public forum, but that they can prohibit speech
that rises to the level of "fighting words"—which, according
to the law, would be any written or spoken language that is used to incite
hatred or violence. This should not be confused with the idea that offensive
speech is prohibited, however, as there is a clear difference between
using intentionally violent and hurtful language.
It is for this very reason that Mr. Wallentine argued his client's
innocence. Despite the fact that the man had allegedly used offensive
language, he did not use any speech that would have been considered "fighting
words" under the law. As such, Mr. Wallentine's client was rightfully
acquitted of the charges on March 13, 2013 in Olathe Municipal Court—which
means that he has successfully avoided a conviction for a class C misdemeanor.
If you or someone you love is facing similar charges in Kansas, you should
not hesitate to get in touch with an
Olathe criminal defense lawyer at our firm. Not only do we maintain a high rate of success in the courtroom,
but we have the experience to show for it.
For this reason, the dedicated legal team at Martin & Wallentine asks
that you place your trust in the hands of our firm. We make ourselves
available for clients 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, so there is no reason
why you should wait any longer to enlist the help of an Olathe criminal
Contact our office today at (913) 232-2518 to get started, or submit a
free case evaluation form directly from our website if you prefer to reach us online.