Penal Code § 405 PC makes it a crime to participate in a riot, an offense punishable by up to $1,000 and/or up to one year in jail. If you get charged with rioting, courts will often grant misdemeanor probation in lieu of jail time as long as you did not cause any injuries or property damage.
The full text of the statute reads as follows:
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.
Penal Code 405 PC makes it a misdemeanor offense in California to participate in a riot. Conviction carries a penalty of up to one year in jail and/or up to $1,000 in fines. But the court has the discretion to grant probation in lieu of incarceration.
A riot is defined as two or more people willfully disturbing the peace, using force or violence, or threatening to use force or violence (if the threat is accompanied by the immediate power of execution.) 1 2 Related crimes in California include:
- Inciting a riot (PC 404.6) – a misdemeanor carrying up to 1 year in jail and/or up to $1,000.
- Failing to leave a riot following a police order to disperse (PC 409) – a misdemeanor carrying up to 6 months in jail and/or up to $1,000.
- Removing someone from police custody through rioting (PC 405a) – a felony carrying two, three, or four years in jail.
- Trespass (PC 602) – a misdemeanor carrying up to 6 months in jail and/or up to $1,000.
- Disorderly conduct (PC 647) – a misdemeanor carrying up to 6 months in jail and/or up to $1,000.
- Looting (PC 463) – a wobbler that can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony.
- Arson (PC 451) – a felony that carries 16 months to nine years of incarceration.
- Vandalism (PC 594) – a misdemeanor if the damage amounts to less than $400, and a felony if the damage amounts to $400 or more
Common defenses to rioting are that the defendant was merely present at the scene and did not participate, or that the defendant was the victim of mistaken identification. Typical evidence in these cases includes surveillance footage, spectator mobile phone video, and eyewitness accounts.
- California Penal Code 405 PC – Punishment of Riot. See also People v. Cipriani (California, Second Appellate District, Division Two, 1971), 18 Cal. App. 3d 299 and In re Price (Court of Appeal of California, Second Appellate District, Division One, 1970) 4 Cal. App. 3d 941.
- PC 404.