San Diego is a pretty laid back place, which means riots are, fortunately, a rarity here. But on occasion, these things do happen and while 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. Unfortunately, getting out of the way isn’t always possible, especially when a riot breaks out during a peaceful protest. If you are accused of this crime, a San Diego disturbing the peace attorney can help you fight the charges.
Legal Definition of Riot in California
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 -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.
When a Protest Turns Into a Riot in San Diego
In many cases, peaceful protests, picketing or even just organized public meetings can result in riots when even a handful of 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 rioting 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.
Self Defense Still Applies in a Riot
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 criminal lawyer can use this as a defense against the charges.
Inciting a Riot Definition
California’s inciting a riot law is similar only it prohibits pushing others to participate. This occurs when someone encourages others to participate in a riot, commit acts of force or violence, or burn or destroy property. This person does not actually need to participate in these acts, but merely urge others to do them. In many cases, a person who doesn’t support a particular cause may attend a protest in order to incite a riot and, thus, discredit the cause of those around him. The penalty for this crime is the same as participating in a riot in San Diego.
You can only be charged of this crime though, if you acted when there was already a clear, present and immediate danger of rioting, violence or property damage actually taking place. If you have been accused of inciting such activities, a San Diego rioting lawyer can help you fight the charges.
Fighting the Charges With a Lawyer
While judges will often sentence those accused of rioting or inciting a riot to probation, it is still better to fight the charges with the help of a San Diego disturbing the peace 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, 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 disturbing the peace lawyer Peter M. Liss.
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