According to California Penal Code 404 a riot is defined as any use or threat to use of force and violence, accompanied by immediate power of execution, by a group of at least two or more people acting together without authority of law
Prosecutor must establish the following elements of the crime to prove that the defendant is guilty of inciting a riot.
- Defendant acted or engaged in conduct or that encouraged a riot or urged others to commit acts of violence or force or to destroy or burn property
- Defendant conducted the act at a time and place and under reasonable circumstances that caused an immediate, clear and present danger that a riot would happen
- Defendant had clear intention to cause a riot.
Intention to Cause a Riot
Intention is the main element of the crime, so defendant only needs to intend to cause a riot to be found guilty of this crime. Defendant can be charged if he urged others to commit forceful violent or destructive acts while there was an immediate danger of a riot. To prove the crime of inciting a riot the prosecutor does not have to prove that any riot actually happened. Under PC Section 404a defendant can be charged with inciting a riot even if the destruction, violence, rioting, or burning didn’t occur.
Legal Defenses to PC Section 404a Charges
In case the defendant did not intend or did not think that his words would provoke acts of force, violence, destruction, burning or rioting he can’t be found guilty of inciting a riot.
Defendant Did Not Incite Violent Acts
Everyone has the right to free speech, and in case the defendant urged the people to participate and exercise their rights to free speech, but did not call them to commit a destructive or violent act then he shouldn’t be convicted.
There Was No Immediate Danger
Defendant urged the people to act, but the circumstances were such that he reasonably believed there was no present, clear or immediate danger of a riot. In case there was no immediate danger of riot then defendant should not be found guilty under PC Section 404a.
- California PC Section 405 -Participation in a Riot
- California PC Sections 407, 408 – Unlawful Assembly
- California PC Sections 409, 416 Refusal to Disperse
- California PC Sections 415 Disturbing the Peace
Penalties for Inciting a Riot
Under California PC Section 404.6(b) inciting a riot is classified as a misdemeanor with the following penalties:
- Up to one year in a county jail
- A fine of up to $1,000
California Penal Code Section 404.6(c) Inciting a Riot in a Jail or Prison
Inciting a riot in a state prison or in a county jail is a misdemeanor but in case the riot results in anyone suffering great bodily injury, the crime can be enhanced to a felony, punishable under California PC Section 1170(h) with the sentence of 16 months, two or three years in a county jail.