‘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.
The various penalties that the court can impose include:
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.
Going to court can be nerve-racking, but having a strong and compassionate legal team behind you can make the experience significantly easier to deal with.
Here are 12 reasons to choose our multi-award winning legal team:
- Proven Track Record of Exceptional Results
Sydney Criminal Lawyers® consistently achieves outcomes which are in the highest percentile of the Judicial Commission’s sentencing statistics for criminal cases. Our legal team devises effective case-strategies and fights hard to have cases dropped entirely or charges downgraded – saving clients the time, expense and stress of a defended hearing or jury trial. Where cases nevertheless proceed, our lawyers have an outstanding track record of winning defended Local Court hearings, and complex jury trials in the District and Supreme Courts.
We also consistently win appeals in the District and Supreme Courts (including the NSWCCA) after clients have received unsatisfactory results with other law firms in the lower courts.
We are one of the few firms to achieve successful criminal law appeals in the High Court of Australia.
Where our clients wish to plead guilty, we frequently achieve ‘dismissals’ and ‘non convictions’ in cases where other lawyers have advised there is no chance of doing so.
- Highest Level of Client Satisfaction
We have the best and most comprehensive client review record of any law firm in Australia. Regular communication, accessibility and quality service are our team’s highest priorities. We are committed to thoroughly explaining all steps involved in the criminal law process, providing regular updates throughout the proceedings, and making ourselves accessible and responsive.
We are passionate about providing an exceptional level of service to our clients, and we fight hard to achieve optimal results in the shortest period of time.
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We have received more awards and accolades than any other criminal law firm in Australia. Our team has been awarded “Criminal Defence Firm of the Year in Australia” in a number of prestigious and competitive awards programs for several years running. The awards recognise our exceptional track record of results, our outstanding client service, the high level of satisfaction we achieve, the affordability of our services and our overall excellence.
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We want our clients to know exactly how much their cases will cost from the very start. That’s why we were the first criminal law firm in Australia to publish ‘fixed fees’, back in 2004. We offer fixed fees for most types of criminal cases and services.
Our fixed fees apply to a range of Local Court cases such as drink driving, drug possession, fraud, common assault and AVOs, and also specific services such as prison visits, bail applications, appeals and defended hearings.
Unlike many other law firms, our fixed fees are published on our website – which ensures transparency and certainty.
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For those who are going to court, we offer a free first conference of up to an hour with one of our Senior Criminal Defence Lawyers. We also offer a free first conference to those who have received an unsatisfactory result after being represented in court by another law firm, or after representing themselves, and wish to appeal.
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We guarantee that only lawyers with substantial criminal defence experience will work on your case and appear for you in court. This ensures our clients receive the highest quality representation from an experienced, specialist criminal lawyer.
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From Bombala to Broken Hill, our lawyers appear in courts throughout New South Wales – and across Australia for Commonwealth cases. And we offer fixed fees for most criminal and traffic law cases throughout the state.
- Accredited Specialists
Our entire firm is exclusively dedicated to criminal law – which makes us true specialists. All of our lawyers have years of experience representing clients in criminal cases, and our principal has been certified by the Law Society of NSW as an Accredited Criminal Law Specialist since 2005. An ‘Accredited Specialist’ is a lawyer who has practised for at least 5 years in a particular field of law (such as criminal law), has passed a rigorous assessment process conducted by the Law Society of NSW, and has been selected by the Specialist Accreditation Committee of the Law Society as an expert in the field. Accredited Specialists are required to undertake more training each year than other lawyers and must be successful in having their accreditation renewed every year. Specialist Accreditation is the mark of a true specialist.
Our firm’s specialist experience ensures you receive the best possible result, whatever your criminal law case may be.
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Our team is passionate about achieving results, and unlike many other law firms, our lawyers do not have monthly financial ‘budgets’ to meet. The absence of budgets means our lawyers are entirely focused on achieving optimal results in the shortest space of time; whether by getting charges dropped or downgraded at an early stage or having cases ‘thrown out of court’. Not having budgets also means our lawyers are not under pressure to engage in unscrupulous practices such as unnecessarily adjourning cases or ‘overcharging’ clients – which, sadly, is a common complaint against many other lawyers and law firms.
No budgets encourages regular consultation between lawyers within the firm – promoting an ‘open door’, team environment where lawyers bounce ideas off one another, formulate case strategy together and benefit from each other’s specialised experience, methods, techniques and insights.
The result is a firm which delivers optimal outcomes in the shortest time periods, at the least expense and stress to our clients.
- Team of Lawyers Behind You
Our clients benefit from the pool of knowledge that only an extensive team of experienced criminal defence lawyers can provide. Our lawyers regularly consult one another to stay ‘ahead of the pack’ in the ever-changing field of criminal law – constantly devising, refining and implementing specialised techniques which ensure our clients achieve the best possible outcomes. A team approach is particularly important when it comes to serious criminal cases such as murder, commercial drug cases, serious and sexual assaults, large-scale fraud, robbery and other ‘indictable’ cases.
In such matters, clients reap the benefits of several lawyers devising and executing case strategies which maximise the chances of having cases dropped or downgraded at an early stage, or ‘thrown out of court’ – often saving clients a great deal of cost, time and anxiety.
- Familiar with Magistrates and Judges
Each of our lawyers appears in court on a daily basis, and has done so for years. We have therefore been able to develop an understanding of, and rapport with, magistrates and judges in Sydney and indeed across the state. Our team’s extensive experience before the courts ensures your case is tailored to the specific nuances of individual judicial officers, maximising the likelihood of a favourable result.
We have offices in locations across the Sydney Metropolitan Area and beyond, including:
- the Sydney CBD, on Castlereagh Street, directly opposite Downing Centre Court,
- Liverpool, directly opposite Liverpool Local Court, and
- Parramatta, near the justice precinct.
We offer free parking at our Sydney CBD and Liverpool locations, and all of our offices are close to train stations and bus terminals.
For those who are unable to attend our offices, we offer conferences by telephone, Skye and FaceTime anywhere around the world.
If you are going to court and wish to arrange a free first consultation, call our 24 hour hotline on (02) 9261 8881 or send us an email at email@example.com.