Yelling At a Cop Is Perfectly Legal, Still Probably Not Very Safe

Illustration for article titled Yelling At a Cop Is Perfectly Legal, Still Probably Not Very Safe

Has a police officer ever done something that deserved a good cursing out? Hard to say. But just so you know, the highest court in New York just ruled that it’s legal for you to let them have it.

On Thursday, according to the Associated Press, New York’s Court of Appeals overturned the convictions of a man named Richard Gonzalez who yelled at police on a city subway and subsequently found himself charged with disorderly conduct as well as weapon possession (Gonzalez, a maintenance worker, said the knife in his pocket was a work tool bought at Home Depot). The court ruled that there was “no record to support the disorderly conduct charge,” stating that a dispute between a civilian and a police officer is criminal only at “a point where it becomes a potential or immediate public problem.”

Back in 2011, three NYPD cops said Gonzalez shouted obscenities and “gesticulated at” them as he was walking up a subway staircase, saying the officers were blocking his way. Charging him with disorderly conduct, the cops found the knife in his pocket and subsequently charged him with gravity-knife possession. Gonzalez was sentenced to three to seven years in prison.


Words don’t become illegal, according to the Marshall Project, an organization which has broken down all the ways you can legally cuss out a cop, until they threaten violence or are likely to incite a violent reaction. But please take this information with a large dose of reality, readers, a large dose that says just because things are legal doesn’t mean exercising those rights won’t get you killed or injured. Be careful out there.

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Image via AP.

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I got a drunk and disorderly ticket from a police officer once because he said I was giving him the middle finger.

... It was a cigarette.