PC 404.6 – Inciting a Riot

Inciting a Riot

Inciting a Riot – Table of Contents

PC 404.6 – Overview

A riot happens when two or more people act without legal authority to disturb the peace using violence, force, or the threat of violence.

According to PC 404.6, (a) Anyone with the intent to incite a riot, engages in conduct that encourages a riot, or encourages others to use force or violence, or to burn or destroy property, at a time and place and under circumstances that create a clear and present and immediate danger of such acts, is guilty of inciting a riot.

(b) Incitement to riot is penalized by a fine of no more than $1,000, no more than one year of incarceration in a county jail, or both punishments.

(c) Anyone who starts a riot that causes significant physical harm in a county or state prison faces a maximum one-year county jail sentence or is imprisoned following Section 1170’s subsection (h).

(d) The existence of any fact that would subject a person to subdivision (c) of the law must be alleged in the complaint, information, or indictment and proven to be accurate by the jury deliberating on the guilt issue, the court in cases where guilt is established by a nolo contendere or guilty plea, or by a trial by the court sitting without a jury.

A person may be convicted of inciting a riot even if no riot occurs. The defendant must expressly incite others to conduct violence. Acts such as hurling rocks would not be considered riot-inciting.

Prosecuting PC 404.6

For the offense of instigating a riot, the prosecution must establish the following elements:

• The defendant did an act or participated in behavior that incited a riot, incited others to commit acts of force or violence, or incited the burning or destruction of property.
• The defendant behaved at a time, place, and under reasonable conditions, creating an apparent, present, and imminent riot risk.
• The defendant meant to provoke a riot when they committed the offense.

Sentencing for PC 404.6

If found guilty of PC 404.6, encouraging a riot, you might be sentenced to:


• a possible 12-month county prison term
• Fines of up to $1,000 are possible.

Depending on the details of your case and criminal history, the judge may give probation with conditions to adhere to.

If the probationary conditions are broken, the criminal may be subject to the harshest punishments allowed under PC 404.6.

While incarcerated in a county or state prison, you may be subject to a wobbler if you are found guilty of instigating a riot. A wobbler implies the prosecution can press felony or misdemeanor charges. In county jail or prison, a felony for instigating a riot may result in three years in state prison. It will be served sequentially.

Similar Offenses

Other crimes that are comparable or connected include:

Section 405 PC of the California Penal Code prohibits involvement in riots.
Section 408 PC: Illegal Assembly
Sections 409 and 416 of the California Penal Code apply to a refusal to disperse.
Section 415 of the California Penal Code prohibits disturbing the peace.

Defending PC 404.6, Incitement To Riot Charges

Mistake of Fact

Identifying riot participants and instigators is frequently tricky by the general chaos that ensues during and after a riot. A criminal defense attorney in California can help you determine the best case strategy. However, some frequent counterattacks are:

Lack of intent

You should not be found guilty of inciting a riot if you did not aim to instigate violence, acts of force, burning, damage, or rioting. Despite being a necessary component, your lack of intent disqualified you. A person shall not be held guilty of inciting aggressive, violent, or damaging behavior if they reasonably believed that their comments would not instantly cause a group of two or more to behave in such a manner.

Nothing you did constituted an act of violence. Even though you were there throughout the disturbance, you did not participate in any riotous activity. A conviction under California Penal Code Section 404.6 would be improper if the police had wrongly identified you as someone who incited the mob.

You did not inspire violent behavior

You encouraged the audience to engage but did not encourage anybody to perform a violent or harmful act. You have the right to free expression, and asking the audience to use their free speech rights is significantly different from inciting a riot; thus, you should not be guilty.

There was no imminent threat

You pushed the audience to respond, but you considered there was no apparent, present, or imminent riot risk given the circumstances.

If there was no imminent risk that the crowd would become aggressive, violent, or disruptive, then you did not break one of the components of the offense and should not be convicted.

We Want to Help

If you have been charged with a Inciting a Riot, it is important to contact a skilled criminal defense attorney right away. Seppi Esfandi is an Expert Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney who has over 20 years of practice defending a variety of criminal cases, including Penal Code 404.6.

Call Us for a FREE Case Review: 310-274-6529

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Lara S.
June 4, 2018
Seppi had my case reduced to just an infraction, and thanks to him I was able to keep my job. Jorge was extremely helpful too, the reason I went with this law firm. Overall pleased.

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