While it is always better to avoid yelling or cursing at a cop, you may or may not be able to control the mouth of a hot-headed spouse if you were to get pulled over. If you have a hot-headed spouse, it is normal to want to know whether he or she could get in trouble for cursing or yelling at a cop.
Yelling at a Cop Isn't Illegal
Thanks to the First Amendment of the Constitution, people are allowed to say just about any rude thing they want without getting in trouble. Is there a line you can cross when it comes to cops?
Getting Arrested vs Getting Convicted
It is important to understand getting arrested and getting convicted are not the same thing. In the United States, you are innocent until you are proven guilty. According to a report conducted by the Marshall Project, it is not uncommon for someone to be arrested for yelling at cops, cussing at cops, or flipping cops off. In most of these cases, however, the court drops the case as the individual who was arrested didn't do anything illegal. In some extreme cases, the police officer has even been fired for taking things too far.
For example, a police officer who was with the McKinney, TX police department was captured on a video that went viral after he threw a 15-year-old girl to the ground because she was "mouthing off" to him. While the teenager may have been being rude, legally she did nothing wrong. The police officer was later fired for his actions.
Fighting Words vs. Swear Words
There is a line you have to be careful not to cross when it comes to cursing and yelling at cops. Fighting words are an exception to the First Amendment and you can get in trouble for using them. A fighting word is a word (or words) intended to inflict harm just by saying them. Legally, a police officer has the right to arrest you of he or she believes you were using fighting words. Then, it would be up to a judge to decide whether or not you were using fighting words and if you should be convicted for it.
If you, however, were to start yelling and screaming at a cop in a manner that attracted the attention of a crowd, the cop could arrest you for disturbing the peace. It, again, would be a judge's decision regarding whether or not you should be convicted.
Legally, cops can't arrest your spouse for calling them a pig or flipping them off. If a cop arrests your spouse for disturbing the peace or using fighting words, it is in your spouse's best interest to reach out to a criminal lawyer as this type of case is a he said/she said case. Without any real evidence to support the police officer's arrest, the lawyer may be able to get the case dropped. Contact a criminal attorney from a company like LaCross & Murphy, PLLC.