Is it illegal to show your middle finger to a cop or anyone else?

My daughter got a fine for showing the middle finger to a cop per a witness. The police officer didn’t see it. She went to the magistrate and they found her guilty and gave her $128 fine. It was like she was guilty without even saying a word.

Asked on October 28, 2011 under Criminal Law, Pennsylvania

Answers:

MD, Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

While there is certainly the freedom of expression under the First Amendment of the Constitution, there is such a thing as being disorderly or obstructing justice. You have not indicated what statute under she was fined but I suspect it was something to the effect of what I mentioned. If the police office did not see it but a witness did, then that means this involved some ongoing altercation or incident that was already in progress. If so, then eye witness tesimony is sufficient to be placed in a police report and that police report can be used in an indirect manner for evidence.


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