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Rioting Law & Defense
PC 404(a) & 404.6(a)

Information on the crimes of rioting and inciting a riot are found at California penal code sections 404(a) and 404.6(a), respectively. Punishment related to Participation in a riot is found at PC 405.

Riot Crimes (Abbrev.)

Rioting PC 404(a): It is illegal to use, or threaten to use, force or violence, to disturb the public peace..., by two or more persons acting together, and without authority of law (PC 404(a) Abbrev.).

Inciting a Riot PC 404.6(a): Every person who acts with intent to cause a riot..., engages in conduct that urges a riot, or urges others to commit acts of force or violence, or the burning or destroying of property, and at a time and place and under circumstances that produce a clear and present and immediate danger of acts of force or violence, or the burning or destroying of property, is guilty of incitement to riot (PC 404.6(a) Abbrev.).

To prove that the defendant is guilty of inciting a riot under PC 404.6(a) the district attorney will need to prove beyond a reasonable doubt, the following:

  • The defendant engaged in conduct that encouraged others to commit acts of force or violence, such as to destroy or burn property, and

  • When the defendant encouraged others to use force or violence the circumstances produced a clear and present danger that a riot would occur or that acts of force or violence would happen, or that property would be burned or destroyed, and

  • When the defendant acted, he or she intended to cause a riot.

Note: Per PC 404.6(a), the district attorney does not need to prove that any riot actually took place. It is the act of trying to start a riot that is the criminal conduct (PC 404.6(a)).


Jail: The crime of inciting a riot is classified as a misdemeanor in California. If found guilty of PC 404(a), or PC 404.6(a), the defendant could face up to one year in the county jail.

Note: Some less common rioting law are classified as felonies, such as inciting a riot in a confined place that leads to injury (PC 404.6(c)) and taking a person from lawful custody during a riot (PC 405(a)). Felony rioting charges carry possible jail sentences up to three years (among other punishments).

Probation Sentence: A probation sentence is a period of supervision as opposed to to an actual jail sentence. probation sentences are allowed in riot cases, but they are not guaranteed. Whether or not the defendant is granted a probation sentence after a conviction for a riot crime depends on many factors, including he defendant's criminal history.

In addition to a possible one year jail sentence for misdemeanor riot charges, the defendant could also face the following collateral punishment: penalty fines, restitution to victims, criminal protective restraining orders, anger management classes, loss of professional license (i.e. doctor, dentist, lawyers, nurse, etc.), immigration consequences for non-U.S. citizens, civil lawsuits, and more.


Common defenses to rioting or inciting a riot charges include: intoxication, insanity, mistake of fact, statute of limitations, alibi defense, insufficient evidence, coerced confessions, and more.

If you or a loved one is charged with rioting or inciting a riot under penal code 404(a) or 404.6(a), contact our criminal defense attorneys today for a free consultation. Our attorneys will patiently explain the law and the criminal procedure associated with PC 404(a) and 404.6(a), along with your defense options. In some rioting or inciting a riot charges, our attorneys can represent you without the need for you to attend court. Call today!



Related Crimes

  • Take a person from lawful custody by riot PC 405b

  • Rout PC 406

  • Participate in Unlawful Assembly PC 408

  • Refuse to Disperse an Unlawful Assembly PC 409

  • Disturbing the Peace PC 415

Quick Legal Reference​

Crime: Inciting a Riot

Code: PC 404.6(a) (CalCrim No. 2682 & 2683)

Wobbler: No. PC 404.6(a) is not a wobbler. This means that PC 404.6(a) is only charged as a misdemeanor.​


Incarceration: ​PC 404.6(a) jail sentence up to 1 year.

Probation: Probation is allowed in PC 404.6(a) cases (assuming other crimes or enhancements that bar a probation sentence are not present). Whether or not a probation sentence is offered by the District Attorney, or granted by the court, depends on several factors, including the defendant's criminal history and the facts of the case.​​

Work Release or House Arrest: In some cases, a probation sentence can include actual in-custody county jail, house arrest (electronic monitoring), or work release (or some combination of these penalties); however, most in-custody jail sentence orders that are required as a terms of probation are much shorter than the maximum jail sentence.

Strike: PC 404.6(a) is not a strike offense listed in California's Three Strikes law.

Credits: 50% good conduct credits available.


Bail: $5,000 (San Bernardino County)

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Criminal Defense Lawyers


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