Unlawful Assembly

201509.22

Arial view of protestEveryone can agree that they have to right to assemble peaceably in a group to state their views. So how does an assembly become unlawful? The difference lies in whether or not there is the possibility of the gathering becoming unruly or violent.

It can be scary to see a group of people gathering to promote ideas that are against the majority. However, just being frightened does not make the assembly unlawful. On the other hand, if the group becomes menacing or violent, or is engaged unlawful activity, then it becomes an unlawful assembly.

If a participant of the group knows they are gathered unlawfully, they may be convicted under the statute of unlawful assembly. Unlawful assembly is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to six months of county jail. If you find yourself in this position, call a trusted bail bondsman.

If a peaceful assembly becomes an unlawful assembly, anyone remaining at the site voluntarily can be charged for the misdemeanor crime. The guilt by association theory comes into play.

Anytime more than one group assembles, there is the possibility of any of them becoming rowdy and out of control. In this case, a jury must decide whether the defendant was in the peaceful group, or the one that got out of hand. Judges generally grant probation rather than jail time for offenders.

Unlawful Assembly Infractions

A number of other infractions can be charged as an unlawful assembly case. Some of them include: disturbing the peace, failure to disperse, inciting to riot, and rioting.

• Disturbing the peace includes fighting in public and being unreasonably offensive or loud. This can include swearing as this can promote a violent response from someone else. Enforcing the disturbing the peace law has limitations. There must be intent to disrupt the enjoyment of activities by others before authorities will intervene.

• It is a crime to stay at the site of a riot after police have ordered the crowd to leave. If anyone refuses, they can be charged with both crimes, that of rioting and unlawful assembly.

• Inciting to riot applies to people who are encouraging other to riot, although they are not rioting themselves. This too can be considered unlawful assembly.

• Rioting laws are very similar to unlawful assembly laws. If the intent is to commit violent acts, threaten others with violence, damage or destroy property, or disturb the peace, then this group is rioting. By definition they are also engaged in an unlawful assembly. However, prosecutors are more likely to charge with rioting, as rioting carries a higher maximum sentence.

How a Bail Bondman Can Help

When persons are arrested for unlawful assembly, there will be a set amount for bail. A bail bondsman can take care of the paperwork involved to release someone from jail. This is called posting a bond. The bail bondsman is also responsible for the defendant showing up in court.