San Diego is a pretty laid back place, which means riots are, fortunately, a rarity here. But if such an event were to occur, avoiding the fray is not just a good idea from a safety standpoint, but also from a legal perspective. That’s because the mere act of participating in a riot is a crime punishable by up to one year in jail and $1,000 in fines. If you are accused of participating in a riot though, a San Diego criminal lawyer can help you fight the charges.
The first thing you should know about California’s rioting laws is that rioting is defined as “any use of force or violence, disturbing the public peace, or any threat to use force or violence, if accompanied by immediate power of execution, by two or more persons acting together, and without authority of law.” This means any time two or more people act together to commit acts of violence, cause a disturbance or threaten violence, a riot is considered to have occurred -as you can tell, this is much different than the common definition of rioting.
A riot does not need to be planned out ahead of time, so there is no conspiracy aspect in the law. If two or more people commit the crimes that deem something a riot, it does not matter if they worked together or not.
In many cases, peaceful protests, picketing or even just organized public meetings can result in riots when participants turn to threats of violence, disturbing the peace or acts of violence. This is one of the reasons it is so important to work with a San Diego criminal attorney with experience fighting these types of cases. It is common for people who merely happened to be in the area at the time of a riot to be charged with rioting with no substantial evidence to prove they were part of the illegal activities.
In other cases, people who weren’t involved with the riot may become involved when police trying to neutralize the conflict or those acting in the riot start attacking them or their colleges. If you were involved in violent activities during a riot but only because you were acting in self defense, your San Diego criminal lawyer can use this as a defense against the charges.
While judges will often sentence those accused of rioting to probation, it is still better to fight the charges with the help of a San Diego defense attorney so you can avoid having the crime on your record. Additionally, many people charged with rioting will be charged with other related crimes such as looting, inciting a riot, assault, failure to disperse, unlawful assembly, lynching, or disturbing the peace.
If you have been charged with rioting or any related crimes, please call (760) 643-4050 or (858) 486-3024 to schedule a free initial consultation with top San Diego criminal lawyer Peter M. Liss.
Creative Commons Image by Montecruz Foto