Politics are rarely pretty, but the 2016 presidential election has been particularly ugly and it’s just getting started. Rallys have turned into protests filled with assaults, voter fraud accusations have been thrown around throughout the country and violence between people of opposing political parties seems to have never been more common. With all this in mind, Gaslamp defense attorney Peter M. Liss believes it’s important to consider some of the most common laws broken at political rallies and protests.
When protests and rallies turn ugly, unlawful assembly is one of the most common charges brought up against those at the events. Unlawful assembly occurs when two or more people assemble for the purpose of breaking the law or doing a legal activity in a violent, boisterous or tumultuous manner. While arrests for this crime don’t usually result in charges, those that are charged must have been violent or posing a clear and present danger of violence at the time of their arrest. If you are charged with this crime, it is very likely your Hillcrest defense lawyer may be able to get the charges dropped.
Sometimes even legal protests or rallies get out of control and actually break into a riot. So far no full-scale riots have broken out during this year’s political rallies, but some incidents that have occurred still qualify as rioting under California law. When two or more people use force of violence, cause a disturbance or threaten violence, they have caused a riot. The two persons do not need to be working together. Since there have already been political gatherings that have resulted in two or more people committing battery, that means rioting has already occurred at rallies -at least, according to the legal definition. It is important to remember that the law still permits self defense in these situations, so if you acted violently during a riot, but only to defend yourself or another person, your North Park criminal attorney should be able to defend you against these charges.
Lastly, if a person is arrested during a rally or protest and others attempt to free them from police custody by rioting, this is considered lynching under California law. While lynching is the least common of these crimes, it is also the most serious and can carry penalties of up to four years, which is why a defense lawyer in Ocean Beach will urge you to let the police arrest people at the rallies so they can be legally released soon afterward.
If you have any questions about these and other charges commonly brought up against political protesters, Peter M. Liss can help. Please call (760) 643-4050 or (858) 486-3024 to schedule a free initial consultation.
Creative Commons Image via Michael Vadon