Federal Criminal Laws on Riots

Rioting can be a major disturbance of the peace and can undermine public order. Because of the serious consequences of riots, the property damage that can result, and the danger to those involved, those who engage in certain unlawful acts related to riots can face serious criminal charges.

However, while riots are unlawful and those who are involved in them can be charged with a federal crime, there can be a fine line between unlawful riots and lawful protests that are protected by the First Amendment right to free speech found in the United States constitution.

If you have been accused of a federal criminal offense related to a riot, it is important you are represented by a knowledgeable and experienced federal criminal defense lawyer with authority to represent you in federal court and with knowledge of the laws applicable to your case. LV Criminal Defense is the firm you should turn to if you live in Arizona, California, Utah, Nevada, Oregon, or surrounding areas.

Our knowledgeable and experienced legal team can provide help from the start of an investigation into your conduct until your case is resolved. We can advise you if you are questioned by police, help you to determine the best strategic response to charges based on the evidence against you, and represent you in court or during the negotiation of a plea deal to reduce penalties or even get the charges reduced to a lesser offense.

Rioting cases can be complicated, and you deserve to have a compassionate and knowledgeable legal professional protecting your First Amendment rights and helping to ensure that your involvement in a protest does not result in prosecution. To find out more about how our legal team can help you whenever you have been accused of rioting, give us a call today.

Federal laws on Riots

Federal laws on riots are found within 18 U.S. Code Chapter 102. There are two statutes within the chapter that define what riots are and that provide details on the definitions of words used within Chapter 102. These statutes not only explain the specific elements of the crime that prosecutors need to prove but they also impose penalties upon defendants who are convicted of riots under federal law. The relevant statutes include:

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  • 18 U.S. Code section 2101 – Riots
  • 18 U.S. Code section 2102 – Definitions

18 U.S. Code section 2102 defines specifically what constitutes a riot for purposes of determining if you violated 18 U.S. Code section 2101. According to the relevant law, a riot is defined as :

  • A public disturbance
  • That involves at least one act of violence
  • That is committed by at least one person who is part of a group of three or more people
  • When the actions of the group constitute a clear and present danger or when the actions of the group result in damage or injury to property or to someone’s person or when the actions of the group include threats that any group member will commit an act of violence provided that the threat of violence can be immediately carried out and would result in damage, injury, or would create a clear and present danger.

The statute also defines inciting a riot to include organizing, promoting, encouraging, participating or carrying out a riot. Some examples of behaviors that are considered to be inciting a riot include urging other people to riot or instigating other people to riot.

However, the statute does make clear that a defendant should not be charged with inciting a riot simply for the written or oral advocacy of ideas; or for the written or oral expression of beliefs — as long as those believes do not include advocating acts of violence or asserting a right to commit acts of violence.

Under 18 U.S. Code section 2101, a defendant can be charged with inciting a riot, organizing, encouraging, promoting or participating in a riot, committing acts of violence in furtherance of a riot, or aiding and abetting others to participate in a riot. However, defendants can face federal charges only for traveling in interstate commerce to engage in these behaviors or for using facilities of interstate or foreign commerce such as the mail, radio, telephone, or television to intentionally incite or participate in a riot.

A defendant could face up to five years of imprisonment and a fine for intentional misconduct related to riots. However, the statute specifies that it is not unlawful for any person to travel in or use facilities of interstate commerce to pursue the legitimate objectives of organized labor through lawful means.

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Getting Help from a Federal Criminal Lawyer

If you are accused of involvement with a riot, you need a federal criminal defense lawyer who understands how the law works and who can provide the help and support that you need to develop an effective defense strategy that will reduce the likelihood of being convicted of a crime.

Our firm can help you when you are under investigation, can assist you in putting together a case, and can help you to decide whether to plead guilty or not guilty depending upon the nature of the charges and the evidence against you. We can advise you as you answer questions by investigators, help you to enter an appropriate plea, and either represent you in court or during plea negotiations. The goal in every situation is to ensure you get the best outcome possible given the situation so you can reduce the likelihood of conviction and emerge from your involvement with the federal criminal justice system with no penalties or minimal penalties.

When you want an attorney you can trust and you live in California, Arizona, Oregon, Nevada, Utah, or surrounding areas, LV Criminal Defense is the firm to turn to. Give us a call today to find out more about the assistance we can offer and the ways in which we can help you to protect your future.