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Rioting & Inciting a Riot Law & Defense

Penal code section 404(a) & 404.6(a)

Information on the crimes of rioting and inciting a riot are found at California penal code sections 404(a) and 404.6(a). Participation in a riot is found at PC 405.

Riot Laws (Abbreviated)

PC 404(a): 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, is a riot.

PC 404.6(a): Every person who with the intent to cause a riot does an act or engages in conduct that urges a riot, or urges others to commit acts of force or violence, or the burning or destroying of property, and at a time and place and under circumstances that produce a clear and present and immediate danger of acts of force or violence or the burning or destroying of property, is guilty of incitement to riot.

PC 405: Every person who participates in any riot is punishable by a fine not exceeding one thousand dollars, or by imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding one year, or by both such fine and imprisonment.

To prove that the defendant is guilty of inciting a riot under PC 404.6(a) the district attorney will need to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that:

  • The defendant engaged in conduct that encouraged others to commit acts of force or violence, such as to destroy or burn property, and
  • When the defendant encouraged others to use force or violence the circumstances produced a clear and present danger that a riot would occur or that acts of force or violence would happen or that property would be burned or destroyed, and
  • When the defendant acted, he or she intended to cause a riot.

To prove the crime of inciting a riot under PC 404.6(a) the district attorney does not need to prove that any riot actually took place. It is the act of trying to start a riot that is the criminal conduct (PC 404.6(a)).

Punishment for Inciting a Riot (PC 404.6(a))

The crime of Inciting a riot is classified as a misdemeanor in California. If found guilty of misdemeanor rioting (PC 404(a)), or inciting a riot (PC 404.6(a)), the defendant could face up to one year in the county jail.

Some less common rioting law are classified as felonies, such as inciting a riot in a confined place that leads to injury (PC 404.6(c)) and taking a person from lawful custody during a riot (Felony under PC 405a). Felony rioting charges carry prison sentences and have special punishment such as firearm ownership prohibition and imposition of a strike offense. Felony PC 404.6(c) carries up to a three year prison sentence, and felony PC 405a carries up to a four year prison sentence.

In addition to a possible one year jail sentence for misdemeanor riot charges, the defendant could also face the following collateral punishment: penalty fines, restitution to victims, criminal protective restraining orders, anger management classes, loss of professional license (i.e. doctor, dentist, lawyers, nurse, etc.), immigration consequences for non-U.S. citizens, civil lawsuits, and more.

Defense to PC 404(a) & 404.6(a)

Common defenses to rioting or inciting a riot charges include: intoxication, insanity, mistake of fact, statute of limitations, alibi defense, insufficient evidence, coerced confessions, and more.

If you or a loved one is charged with rioting or inciting a riot under penal code 404(a) or 404.6(a), contact our criminal defense attorneys today for a free consultation.

Our attorneys will patiently explain to you the law and the criminal procedure associated with PC 404(a) and 404.6(a), along with your defense options. In some rioting or inciting a riot charges, our attorneys can represent you without the need for you to attend court. Call today!


Crimes Related to Inciting a Riot PC 404.6(a)

  • Take a person from lawful custody by riot PC 405b
  • Rout PC 406
  • Unlawful Assembly PC 407
  • Participate in Unlawful Assembly PC 408
  • Refuse to Disperse an Unlawful Assembly PC 409
  • Disturbing the Peace PC 415
  • Rioting PC 404(a)
  • Inciting a Riot PC 404.6(a)

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California Rioting and Inciting a Riot Law & Defense PC 404(a), 404.6(a) & 405

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