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Rioting and Inciting to Riot Charges

June 23, 2020 Federal Criminal Attorneys

The right to protest is one of the most adored rights in American Constitution. The right of American citizens to protest peacefully is guaranteed and protected by the First Amendment right for free speech.

However, the right to protects just like any other right doesn’t allow violence or incitement to it.

Protests that become violent are described as riots. There are laws that govern rioting and those who incite others to riot. You should, therefore, be aware of these laws before you hit the streets. Let us take a look at some of the federal laws against rioting and inciting to riot.

First of all, it is also important to understand that the right to protest should not supersede the right of other people to enjoy their peace.

As much as the First Amendment allows citizens to enjoy their rights for free speech and demonstrate, they are supposed to operate within certain limitations.

Federal and state jurisdictions

Most states have their own laws with regard to rioting. If a person if charged and convicted or acquitted under their state law, they cannot be prosecuted for the same crime under the federal laws. Federal laws are more limited compared to state laws.

How does federal jurisdiction arise? It happens when a person engages in a prohibited act and decides to travel between countries or states to do so.

A person is also liable for the offense if the same person in a foreign land uses email, radio, television, or telephone to incite others prior to the act.

Rioting, inciting to riot and other related offenses

A riot can described as a form of civil disorder that leads to public disruption intended to provoke authorities.

In most cases, riots consist of the destruction of property accompanied by violent behavior. Despite the fact that every citizen has a right to assemble and speak freely (as stipulated in the First Amendment), states or cities have a right to regulate the process by requiring permits to assemble.

Consequently, any demonstration happening without a permit can be considered as a riot or an offense related to unlawful assembly.

Other than rioting – that involves violence and destruction of property, there are other crimes that a person can be charged with.

Conspiracy to riot – this involves the planning of activities that are implemented can lead to disturbance of the peace. Nonetheless, conspiracy lawsuits often require that the person accused must have openly engaged in an act or actions to have the plan implemented.

Incitement to riot – This is a situation where an individual encourages or persuades others to engage in acts that result in violence without necessarily getting involved themselves.

Rioting and inciting to riot charges

Anyone who is found guilty of rioting or inciting to riot can be punished either by fines, imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years, or both.

However, it’s worth noting that all laws against rioting are not aimed at preventing people from raising legitimate concerns. Such laws should not be used to target innocent citizens for political or selfish gains.

Legal fees

If a person is charged with rioting or inciting to riot, they are able to demand the charges to be reduced or dismissed by putting up one of the following defenses:

• He/ she was caught up in the scene and didn’t take in the actual rioting

• That they were acting to defend themselves against law enforcement officers who were using excess force

• He/ she was the case of mistaken identity

In general, rioting and inciting to riot is are punishable by law. Despite the fact that The First Amendment guarantees the freedom of speech and right to assemble, such privileges are supposed to be exercised with responsibility.

Besides, the law governing rioting and inciting to riot is designed in such a way that it doesn’t target people who are genuinely fighting for legitimate reasons. This is both at the state and federal levels.

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