‘Riot’ describes situations where 12 or more people are present together and use or threaten unlawful violence. The group must be shown to have a ‘common purpose,’ and the conduct of the group as a whole must cause a person of reasonable firmness to fear for his or her personal safety.
The offence of riot is a serious offence which carries heavy penalties, therefore being charged with riot can be an understandably distressing experience.
But you don’t have to fight the battle alone – with the help and support of our expert criminal lawyers, you can secure a positive outcome for you or your loved ones.
Your Options in Court
To be found guilty of riot, it is essential that the prosecution prove each of the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt that:
- There were 12 or more persons who were present together
- The group used or threatened unlawful violence for a ‘common purpose’
- The conduct of the group as a whole would cause a reasonable person who was at the scene to fear for his or her personal safety
If you feel that the prosecution will be unable to prove any one of these elements beyond a reasonable doubt, you may wish to plead ‘not guilty’ to the charges.
If you choose to plead ‘not guilty,’ you will be able to present evidence in court to prove your innocence – for example, you may be able to show that there were not 12 persons present at the time of the offence, or that the group did not share a ‘common purpose.’
You may also wish to raise a defence to explain your conduct, which if accepted will result in a finding of ‘not guilty.’ For example:
- Where you were coerced or threatened into participating in the riot (duress)
- Where you participated in the riot to defend yourself, another person or your property (self-defence)
- Where you participated in the riot to prevent serious injury or danger (necessity)
If you have been charged with riot, it is essential that you get an experienced criminal lawyer with a proven track record of fighting and winning riot cases on your side.
An experienced lawyer will be able to provide sound advice on the best options in your case, including whether you are able to raise a defence to fight the charges.
Remember, you can increase your chances of getting a favourable outcome in your riot case by engaging an experienced criminal lawyer with a proven track record of fighting and winning riot cases.
If you’ve been charged with riot, it’s important to equip yourself with as much relevant information as possible to ensure that you fully understand the charges and the impact that they could have on your life.
We have provided some additional information below to assist you in understanding the offence of riot.
What does the prosecution have to prove?
Before you can be found guilty of riot, the prosecution must prove three things beyond a reasonable doubt:
1) There were 12 or more persons who were present together
For there to be a riot, there must be at least 12 persons who were together at the same place at the same time.
2) The group used or threatened unlawful violence for a ‘common purpose’
The group must have a common purpose for their unlawful violence – for example, the group may wish to address the prior conduct of a particular racial group (as was the case in the 2005 Cronulla Riots). Alternatively, they may be protesting or campaigning for a specific cause.
The prosecution must show that the group intended to use violence, or that the group was aware that its conduct may cause someone to fear violence.
Violence can include damage or injury caused to persons or property, as well as any conduct which may result in injury – for example, throwing objects that are capable of causing injury at other persons, even if your actions do not result in injury.
There must be evidence of a physical act, such as the making of threatening movements or gestures. Words alone will not be enough to constitute a riot.
The threatening conduct may occur in either a public or a private place.
3) The conduct of the group as a whole would cause a reasonable person who was at the scene to fear for his or her personal safety
The group’s conduct must be shown to cause an ordinary person to fear for their safety.
However, it is not necessary for other people to actually be around for there to be a riot.
What penalties could I face?
The law states that the maximum penalty for riot is 2 years imprisonment when it is dealt with in the Local Court, or 15 years imprisonment if the prosecution chooses to have the matter heard in the District Court.
Ultimately, the penalty that you will receive depends on a wide range of factors, including the nature and seriousness of the violence, the number of people involved, any damage or injuries inflicted upon persons or property, as well as other things such as your prior criminal record.
Statistics indicate that the most common penalty imposed is a suspended sentence where your matter is dealt with in the Local Court, or imprisonment for a total period of 2 years where your matter is heard in the District Court.
Why Sydney Criminal Lawyers®?
Riot offences are treated very seriously by the courts, and may result in harsh penalties. But with the help of an experienced criminal lawyer with a proven track record of fighting and winning riot cases, you can give yourself a leading advantage in your case.
At Sydney Criminal Lawyers®, we have extensive experience representing clients in riot cases – we have successfully defended clients in numerous high-profile cases, including charges resulting from the Cronulla riots.
Our in-depth knowledge of this area of the law sets us apart from other general lawyers, who do not possess the same level of insight as our advocates.
Our lawyers thoroughly examine all evidence to find problems with the prosecution case, as well as any possible defences – for example, by showing that you lacked a common purpose.
We understand how much your freedom means to you, which is why our dedicated lawyers fight hard to make sure that you stay out of gaol.
So, for the best possible defence in your riot case, call us now (02) 9261 8881 and book your first FREE consultation with one of our expert lawyers.