The Right to Peaceful Assembly in California
The first amendment to the constitution is there to protect our rights, though we have some limitations. While we can protest and riot, we must do so peacefully, which comes with a lot of room for misinterpretation.
Rioting, Violence, or Insurrection
Though we do have the right to say whatever we like about our government, we are not allowed to do certain things. We can riot in an orderly manner but we cannot lead others to riot, violence, or insurrection. Included in some of the illegal acts are:
- Disorderly conduct
- Public disorder
- Breach of peace
- Creation of mobs
Free Speech is Not Criminalizing
During the hearing of Brandenburg Vs. Ohio, a decision was made that taking criminalizing free speech is a threat to democracy. Other similar cases proved the same when the Ku Klux Klan leader was found not guilty for his racial slurs and anti-government comments.
One of the key lines in the laws emphasizes that the speaker must intend to incite or produce imminent lawless action” and be “likely to produce such action.” Because one will never know until something like that happens, it’s a tough law to gauge.
How It Gets Criminalized
No one will get thrown in jail for saying anything. That’s just part of our first amendment right. However, those who partake in this kind of speech can face charges if a court finds:
- Proof that the speaker intends to incite violence
- An action plan must have been created beforehand
- The speaker’s words must prove to be persuasive enough to sway a large crowd
As you can see, there’s a lot of room for debate between these, and many lines of defense that an attorney could take in your defense.
In the state of California, it is illegal to incite a riot. It also features sections on encouraging violence and vandalizing property. Those who partake in any of these actions could face misdemeanor charges, a fine of up to $1000, and up to one year of jail time.
Changes Happen Often: Stay in the Know
We live in a time where things are changing, especially since we have social media that has a much larger influence than any other source in the past. Keep your eyes peeled for updates and make sure that you stay up-to-date with changes to the laws in California revolving around riots, speech, and inciting violence.
Legal Assistance for Wobblers
Because there is so much left up to interpretation, seeking knowledgeable legal counsel is highly recommended. In the state of California, some laws classify as “wobblers.” These laws fluctuate between a misdemeanor and a felony, something that could ruin one’s life and/or career.
In the end, it is up for the court to decide and, for anyone who’s charged, having legal counsel could help. A strong defense could be the make or break on the final ruling on your court case, taking it from a felony to a misdemeanor if you have a good, solid defense.