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Ely
Ely, Counselor at Law
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 100009
Experience:  Private practice with focus on family, criminal, PI, consumer protection, and business consultation.
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In effigy in florida, is it legal to hang a president in

Customer Question

in effigy in florida
JA: Has anything been filed or reported?
Customer: is it legal to hang a president in effigy in florida. I am an artist and wish to do it.
JA: Anything else you want the lawyer to know before I connect you?
Customer: I am an artist at a college and professor. Our faculty is having an 'underground' pop up show in our department area in January 2017 for a short time.
Submitted: 27 days ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Ely replied 27 days ago.

Hello and welcome to JustAnswer. Please note: This is general information for educational purposes only and is not legal advice. No specific course of action is proposed herein, and no attorney-client relationship or privilege is formed by speaking to an expert on this site. By continuing, you confirm that you understand and agree to these terms.

Wow, talk about opening up a can of worms.

Well, the first thing that one would say is that this is free speech under the 1st Amendment. And this carries some weight. However:

1) "Symbolic speech" such as burning flags and and draft cards receive less protection under the 1st Amendment. See Texas v. Johnson, 491 U.S. 397 (1989) and United States v. O’Brien, 391 U.S. 367 (1968), respectively.

2) In addition, free speech must "sufficiently imbued with elements of communication." Spence v. Washington, 418 U.S. 405, 409 (1974). Meaning, a burning effigy, or burning anything, may not fall under 1st Amendment protection.

3) Finally, this may be interpreted as a threat against the individual. Threatening the President of the United States is a class E felony under United States Code Title 18, Section 871. It consists of knowingly and willfully mailing or otherwise making "any threat to take the life of, to kidnap, or to inflict bodily harm upon the President of the United States." The term "any threat" is not statutorily defined, opening this up for interpretation.

4) Finally, local fire codes have to be considered, as people who do this often are slapped with ordinance violations in addition to above.

So in sum, while this may technically be legal at first glance under the 1st Amendment, it is open to interpretation and may fall under ordinance/civil/criminal matters, and as thus you'd be asking for trouble by engaging in such an activity. Please be careful!

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I hope this helps and clarifies. Please use the SEND or REPLY button to keep chatting, or please RATE when finished. You may always ask follow ups at no charge after rating. Kindly rate my answer as one of TOP THREE FACES/STARS and then SUBMIT, as this is how experts get credit for our time. Rating my answer the bottom two faces/stars (or failing to submit the rating) does not give me credit and reflects poorly on me, even if my answer is correct. I work very hard to formulate an informative and honest answer for you; please reciprocate my good faith with a positive rating.

Customer: replied 26 days ago.
I said 'hang' not burn
Expert:  Ely replied 26 days ago.
Ah! Apologies. One second, please...
Expert:  Ely replied 26 days ago.
My apologies for the earlier misunderstanding. The answer still applies for the most part:
1) "Symbolic speech" such as burning flags and and draft cards (AND HANGING THE EFFIGY) receive less protection under the 1st Amendment. See Texas v. Johnson, 491 U.S. 397 (1989) and United States v. O’Brien, 391 U.S. 367 (1968), respectively.
2) In addition, free speech must "sufficiently imbued with elements of communication." Spence v. Washington, 418 U.S. 405, 409 (1974). Meaning, a burning effigy, or burning anything, may not fall under 1st Amendment protection.
3) Finally, this may be interpreted as a threat against the individual. Threatening the President of the United States is a class E felony under United States Code Title 18, Section 871. It consists of knowingly and willfully mailing or otherwise making "any threat to take the life of, to kidnap, or to inflict bodily harm upon the President of the United States." The term "any threat" is not statutorily defined, opening this up for interpretation.
As such, my answer stands as is. While not as "dire" as burning, this can still be seen as not falling under 1st Amendment protection and/or as a threat to the individual, opening up possibility of liability.
Gentle Reminder: Please, use REPLY or SEND button to keep chatting, or RATE POSITIVELY and SUBMIT your rating when we are finished. You may always ask follow ups at no charge after rating.
Expert:  Ely replied 26 days ago.
Hello again. This is a courtesy check in to see if you needed anything else in regards ***** ***** question because you never responded or replied positively. I am simply touching base. Let me know. Thanks!

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