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Unlawful Assembly Law & Defense

Penal Code 407, 408, & 409

The law on the California crime of unlawful assembly is found at California penal code sections 407, 408, & 409. There are several other closely associated crimes to unlawful assembly such as rioting, and disturbing the peace and more information on those closely associated crimes may be found at those links.

To be found guilty of the crime of unlawful assembly the district attorney will need to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant willfully participated in an unlawful assembly and the he or she knew that the assembly was unlawful when he or she participated.

To act willingly means that the defendant did the act on purpose.

Unlawful assembly, according to PC 407, means two or more people assembled together to commit a crime or to commit a lawful act but in a violent manner.

Crowds or people that present a clear and present danger to the community because of the violent nature of the crowd may be found to have unlawfully assembled.

To participate in the unlawful assembly is a crime filed under PC 408. Knowing that the assembly is unlawful is proved by circumstantial evidence: Violent protesters, looters, rioters, and crowds shouting at each other is self-evident that the assembly is not lawful.

Refusing to disperse an unlawful assembly or riot when ordered to do so is also a crime and is charged under penal code 409.

Unlawful assembly (PC 407), participating in an unlawful assembly (PC 408), and refusing to disperse and unlawful assembly or riot (PC 409), are all charged as misdemeanors in California.

If found guilty of PC 407, 408, or 409, the defendant may face up to one hundred and eighty (180) days in jail (this is the maximum term unless there are other types of criminal charges facing the defendant such as assault or vandalism, etc.).

Additional penalties upon a conviction for unlawful assembly include court fines and penalties, probation terms, restitution, stay-away orders, possible loss of immigration status or professional licensing, and more.

In many cases it may be possible to have the unlawful assembly charges dismissed on constitutional Freedom of Association Rights, insufficient evidence, Statute of limitations violations, police misconduct, mistake of fact defense, or other defense.

Other defenses to PC 407, 408, 409 criminal charges include negotiations for a probation sentence or suspended sentence, a reduction of the unlawful assembly charges to lesser charges, or a sentence that requires only work release or home confinement sentence (electronic ankle bracelet monitoring).

In most cases of criminal unlawful assembly charges a criminal defense attorney may represent the defendant without the defendant being required to attend court.

If you have been charged with a violation of California's unlawful assembly statutes under PC 407, 408, & 409, contact criminal defense attorney Christopher Dorado today.

Attorney Dorado and his staff of criminal defense attorney dedicate one hundred percent of their practice to criminal defense and consultations are provided at no cost to the accused. We are a team of successful trial lawyers ready to answer your questions twenty-four hours a day and seven days a week.

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PC 407, 408, & 409: Unlawful Assembly


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Closely Related Crimes to Unlawful Assembly:

Riot PC 404(a)

Rout PC 406

Disturb or Breakup an Assembly or Meeting PC 403

California Unlawful Assembly Law & Defense / PC 407, 408, & 409


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