Washington, DC asked in Constitutional Law and Criminal Law for District of Columbia

Q: Is it illegal to desecrate the American flag? I saw on the Cornell university law school website that it was?

People say that this doesn't mean anything but is it the current law or not? I'm finding alot of opposing ideas on it. Is it illegal or not? (1) Whoever knowingly mutilates, defaces, physically defiles, burns, maintains on the floor or ground, or tramples upon any flag of the United States shall be fined under this title or imprisoned for not more than one year, or both.

1 Lawyer Answer
Ali Shahrestani, Esq.
Ali Shahrestani, Esq.
Answered
  • Criminal Law Lawyer
  • San Francisco, CA

A: There are indeed legal precedents which hold that the right to free speech permits political acts such as flag burning. However be prepared to defend the fact that such an act was indeed political speech and not otherwise endangering the public's safety. It can get tricky, especially depending on any relevant time and place limitations instituted by local law. The best first step is an Initial Consultation with an Attorney. You can read more about me on my law practice website. This answer does not constitute legal advice nor does it create any Attorney-Client relationship.

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