Legal Frequently Asked Questions

Will legal support be provided?

Yes. Everyone who risks arrest with Democracy Spring and upholds our principle of nonviolence will receive free and comprehensive legal support and representation from the Philadelphia-based Up Against the Law Collective.

Up Against the Law’s lawyers have defended hundreds of protesters in court and have never lost a case.

What am I likely to be charged with for participating in the action?

In the most likely scenario you will be given a civil citation of $100 or more. When a civil citation is issued, there are no criminal charges made and no court date is required. You may either pay your citation within 15 days of being arrested or contest the citation. The payment can be made in person or mailed in.

The citation is typically issued within hours of arrest, either at the station or a field processing center. You would be released after processing.

There is a less likely possibility that you will be charged with a summary offense, which would require you to appear in court in Philadelphia for a hearing, typically within a few weeks of arrest. Summary charges are minor criminal offenses. Those receiving summary charges may either receive a summary citation and be released immediately following arrest or held in custody for up to 48 hours. Those arrested for summary offenses are normally released within 24 hours.

Misdemeanor or felony charges are possible but highly unlikely because we will be upholding nonviolent discipline throughout the action.

Is there likely to be greater consequences for people who risk arrest more than once?

In the past, people have not faced additional charges for risking arrest more than once. However we can not be sure that will be true again.

Will the police offer multiple warnings?

Probably. The Philadelphia Police typically offer three warnings before issuing arrests.

What is the arrest process like?

You will be arrested and processed, which typically involves getting patted-down, searched, fingerprinted, checked for a criminal record via national databases, and photographed, providing your ID, and answering questions about your name and address. Processing can take anywhere from 4 to 10 hours, and time increases as number of arrestees increases (more people take more time). There is no way to shorten or negotiate the processing time.

How might being arrested impact applying for jobs or school scholarships?

Receiving a civil citation is the most likely result of arrest and involves no conviction to report on any applications.

If you go to trial on any charge and lose, you would have a conviction on your record, which you may have to report on job applications, scholarship applications, or renewal of or application for a professional licensing or accreditation. However, the general consequence is simply a need to explain the arrest upon reporting it. It is very important to be clear that successful people in almost every profession from teacher to lawyer to doctor, psychologist, and elected official have been arrested multiple times for nonviolent civil disobedience and gone on to or continued to excel in their work.