State flag-protection laws

Although the U.S. Supreme Court has twice invalidated state flag laws, 47 states still have on the books laws, many modeled after the Uniform Flag Law of 1917, that prohibit the desecration of the flag or its use for advertising and publicity purposes.

Alabama Louisiana
Arizona Maine
Arkansas Maryland
California Massachusetts
Colorado Michigan
Connecticut Minnesota
Delaware Mississippi
Florida Missouri
Georgia Montana
Hawaii Nebraska
Idaho Nevada
Illinois New Hampshire Virginia
Indiana New Jersey Washington
Iowa New Mexico West Virginia
Kansas New York Wisconsin
Kentucky North Carolina  

 

Alabama


The State of Alabama makes it a Class A misdemeanor for anyone to desecrate a venerated object, such as the U.S. or Alabama state flag. [Ala. Code Sec. 13A-11-12]

Arizona


The State of Arizona forbids the use of the U.S. or Arizona state flag in advertisements, publicity or trade. The law also prohibits people from "casting contempt upon, mutilating, defacing, defiling, burning, trampling or otherwise dishonoring" the U.S. or Arizona state flag. [Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. Sec. 13-3703]

Arkansas


The State of Arkansas imposes a fine of up to $1,000 and a jail term up to one year on those convicted of mutilating, defacing, burning or trampling the U.S. flag. [Ark. Code Ann. Sec. 5-51-207]

California


The State of California makes it a misdemeanor for anyone to cast contempt on any flag by mutilating, defacing, defiling, burning or trampling upon it. [Cal. Mil. & Vet. Code Ann. 614]

Colorado


The State of Colorado makes it a Class 3 misdemeanor for anyone to burn, cut or tear any U.S. flag in public with the intent to cast contempt or ridicule upon the flag, to outrage the sensibilities of a person likely to observe the incident or to cause a breach of the peace. [Colo. Rev. Stat. 18-11-204]

Connecticut


The State of Connecticut makes it a misdemeanor for anyone to misuse or mutilate the U.S. or the Connecticut state flag. The law also forbids the use of such flags for advertising or publicity purposes. [Conn. Gen. Stat. Sec. 53-258a.]

Delaware


The State of Delaware makes it a Class A misdemeanor for anyone to intentionally deface, damage or physically mistreat the U.S. flag "in a way in which the actor knows will outrage the sensibilities of persons likely to observe or discover the actions." [Del. Code. Ann. tit. 11 Sec. 1331]

Florida


The State of Florida makes it a first-degree misdemeanor for anyone to mutilate, deface, burn or trample upon the U.S. flag, the Florida state flag or the flags of the Confederacy. The law also forbids the use of such flags for advertising or publicity purposes. [Fla. Stat. Ch. 876.52]

Georgia


The State of Georgia prohibits anyone from mutilating, defacing, burning or trampling upon the U.S. flag, the Florida state flag or the flag of the Confederate States of America. The law also forbids the use of such flags for advertising or publicity purposes. [Ga. Code Ann. Sec. 50-3-8 and 50-3-9]

Hawaii


The State of Hawaii makes it a misdemeanor for anyone to intentionally deface, damage or physically mistreat the U.S. flag "in a way that the defendant knows will outrage the sensibilities of persons likely to observe or discover the defendant's actions." [Hawaii Rev. Stat. Sec. 711-1107]

Idaho


The State of Idaho makes it a misdemeanor for anyone to publicly mutilate, deface, trample upon or burn the U.S. or Idaho state flag with the intent to insult. [Idaho Code Sec. 18-3401]

Illinois


The State of Illinois makes it a Class 4 felony for anyone to misuse or mutilate the U.S. or the Illinois state flag. The law also forbids the use of either flag for advertising or publicity purposes. Half of fines collected in the successful prosecution of this charge go to the school fund of the county in which the conviction is obtained. [720 Ill. Comp. Stat. 620]

Indiana


The State of Indiana makes it a Class A misdemeanor for anyone to knowingly or intentionally mutilate, deface, burn or trample the U.S. flag. [Indiana Code 35-45-1-4]

Iowa


The State of Iowa makes it a misdemeanor for anyone to misuse or mutilate the U.S. or the Iowa state flag. The law also forbids the use of either flag for advertising or publicity purposes. [Iowa Code 718A.1 through 718A.6]

Kansas


The State of Kansas prohibits anyone from damaging, defacing or destroying any U.S. or Kansas state flag without express consent. The charge may be a felony if the value of the damaged property exceeds $500. [Kan. Stat. Ann. Sec. 21-4111]

Kentucky


The State of Kentucky makes it a Class A misdemeanor for anyone to desecrate the U.S. flag, the Kentucky state flag or any other patriotic or religious symbol. [Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. Sec. 525.110]

Louisiana


The State of Louisiana imposes a fine of up to $100 and a jail term up to 90 days on those convicted of mutilating, defacing, burning or trampling the U.S. flag, the Louisiana state flag or the Confederate States of America flag. The law also forbids the use of such flags for advertising or publicity purposes. [La. Rev. Stat. Ann. Sec. 116 and 117]

Maine


The State of Maine imposes a fine of up to $50 on those convicted of using the U.S. flag or the Maine state flag for advertising or publicity purposes. [Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 1 Sec. 253]

Maryland


The State of Maryland prohibits anyone from mutilating, defacing or showing contempt for the U.S. flag or the Maryland state flag. The law also forbids the use of such flags for advertising or publicity purposes. [Md. Code Ann. Art. 38A Sec. 44 and Art. 41 Sec. 4-1003]

Massachusetts


The State of Massachusetts imposes a minimum fine of $100 and a jail term up to one year on anyone convicted of mutilating, trampling, defacing or showing contempt for the U.S. flag or the Massachusetts state flag. The law also forbids the use of such flags for advertising or publicity purposes. [Mass. Gen. L. ch. 264 Sec. 5]

Michigan


The State of Michigan makes it a misdemeanor for anyone to publicly mutilate, deface, defile or show contempt for the U.S. flag or the Michigan state flag. [Mich. Comp. Laws Sec. 750.246]

Minnesota


The State of Minnesota makes it a misdemeanor for anyone to intentionally and publicly mutilate, defile or show contempt for the U.S. flag or the Minnesota state flag. The law also forbids the use of such flags for advertising or publicity purposes. [Minn. Stat. Sec. 609.40]

Mississippi


The State of Mississippi imposes a fine of up to $1,000 and a jail term up to 30 days on those convicted of mutilating, trampling, defacing or showing contempt for the U.S. flag or the Mississippi state flag. The law also forbids the use of such flags for advertising or publicity purposes. [Miss. Code Ann. Sec. 97-7-39]

Missouri


The State of Missouri makes it a Class A misdemeanor for anyone to purposefully and publicly mutilate, defile, trample upon or desecrate the U.S. or Missouri state flags. [Mo. Rev. Stat. 578.095]

Montana


The State of Montana imposes a fine of up to $50,000 and a jail term up to 10 years on anyone convicted of mutilating, defiling or showing contempt for the U.S. flag or the Montana state flag. The law also forbids the use of such flags for advertising or publicity purposes. [Mont. Code Ann. Sec. 45-8-215]

Nebraska


The State of Nebraska makes it a Class III misdemeanor for anyone to mutilate the U.S. flag or the Nebraska state flag. [Neb. Rev. Stat. Sec. 28-928]

Nevada


The State of Nevada makes it a misdemeanor for anyone to deface or defile the U.S. flag or the Nevada state flag. The law also forbids the use of such flags for advertising or publicity purposes. [Nev. Rev. Stat. Ann. Sec. 201.290]

New Hampshire


The State of New Hampshire makes it a misdemeanor for anyone to burn, deface, mutilate, destroy or trample upon the U.S. flag. [N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. Sec. 646A]

New Jersey


The State of New Jersey prohibits anyone from desecrating any public monument or symbol, including the U.S. or any state flag. [N.J. Stat. Ann. 2C:33-9]

New Mexico


The State of New Mexico makes it a misdemeanor for anyone to misuse or insult the U.S. or the New Mexico state flags. The law also forbids the use of such flags for advertising or publicity purposes. [N.M. Stat. Ann. 30-21-4]

New York


The State of New York makes it a misdemeanor for anyone to use the U.S. flag for advertising or publicity purposes. [N.Y. Gen. Bus. Law 136]

North Carolina


The State of North Carolina makes it a Class 2 misdemeanor for anyone to mutilate, defile, deface or trample upon the U.S. flag or the North Carolina state flag. [N.C. Gen. Stat. Sec. 14.381]

North Dakota


The State of North Dakota makes it a Class A misdemeanor for anyone to publicly mutilate, deface, defile, burn or trample upon the U.S. flag. [N.D. Ann. Stat. 12.1-07-01]

Ohio


The State of Ohio prohibits anyone from purposely defacing, damaging or physically mistreating the U.S. flag or the Ohio state flag. [Ohio Rev. Code Ann. Sec. 2927.11]

Oklahoma


The State of Oklahoma imposes a fine up to $3,000 and a jail term up to three years for anyone who contemptuously or maliciously burns, mutilates, defaces or tramples upon the U.S. flag. The law forbids the public display of any red flag or other banner indicating disloyalty to the U.S. Government or promoting a belief in anarchy or the destruction of organized government. The law also forbids the use of the U.S. flag for advertising or publicity purposes. [Okla. Stat. 9, Sec. 371 through 375]

Oregon


The State of Oregon makes it a Class C misdemeanor for anyone to abuse venerated objects such as the U.S. flag or the Oregon state flag. [Or. Rev. Stat. Sec. 166.075]

Pennsylvania


The State of Pennsylvania prohibits anyone from disrespecting the U.S. flag or using it for advertising or publicity purposes. [Pa. Code Sec. 7.46 and Sec. 13.13]

Rhode Island


The State of Rhode Island imposes up to a $100 fine and a jail term up to 30 days on anyone convicted of publicly mutilating, defacing or trampling upon the U.S. flag. The law also forbids the use of the flag for advertising or publicity purposes. [R.I. Gen. Laws Sec. 11-15-2]

South Carolina


The State of South Carolina imposes up to a $100 fine and a jail term up to 30 days on anyone convicted of publicly mutilating, defacing or defiling the U.S. flag, the South Carolina state flag or the Confederate States of America flag. The law also forbids the use of such flags for advertising or publicity purposes. [S.C. Code Ann. Sec. 16-17-210 through 230]

South Dakota


The State of South Dakota makes it a Class 1 misdemeanor for anyone to knowingly mutilate, deface, burn or trample upon the U.S. flag or the South Dakota state flag. The law also forbids the use of such flags for advertising or publicity purposes. The law also bans the display of red, black or any other flags antagonistic to existing government. [S.D. Codified Laws Ann. Sec. 22-9-1 through 22-9-13]

Texas


The State of Texas makes it a Class A misdemeanor for anyone to intentionally damage, deface, mutilate or burn the U.S. flag or the Texas state flag. [Tex. Code Ann. Sec. 42.11]

Utah


The State of Utah makes it a Class B misdemeanor for anyone to knowingly and publicly mutilate, deface, burn or trample upon the U.S. flag or any state flag. The law also forbids the use of such flags for advertising or publicity purposes. [Utah Code Sec. 76-9-601]

Vermont


The State of Vermont prohibits anyone from publicly mutilating, defacing, defiling or trampling upon the U.S. flag or the Vermont state flag. The law also forbids the use of such flags for advertising or publicity purposes. [Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 13 Sec. 1902 and 1903]

Virginia


The State of Virginia prohibits anyone from publicly mutilating, burning, defiling or trampling upon the U.S. flag or the Virginia state flag. [Va. Code Sec. 18.2-488]

Washington


The State of Washington makes it a misdemeanor for anyone to cast contempt by publicly mutilating, defacing, defiling, burning or trampling upon the U.S. or Washington state flag. The law also forbids the use of such flags for advertising or publicity purposes. [Wash. Rev. Code 9.86.030]

West Virginia


The State of West Virginia imposes a fine of between $5 and $100 and a jail term up to 30 days on anyone convicted of publicly mutilating, defacing, defiling or trampling upon the U.S. flag or the West Virginia state flag. The law also forbids the use of such flags for advertising or publicity purposes. [W. Va. Code Sec. 61-1-8]

Wisconsin


The State of Wisconsin makes it a Class A misdemeanor to use the U.S. flag or the Wisconsin state flag for advertising or publicity purposes. The law contains a flag-desecration law but notes that the Wisconsin Supreme Court deemed it to be unconstitutionally overbroad in the 1998 case Wisconsin v. Janssen. [Wis. Stat. Sec. 946.05 through 946.06]