Penal Code 408 PC
PC 408 – Unlawful Assembly
Unlawful Assembly – Table of Contents
The First Amendment right makes it possible for people to assemble. However, this right only works if the individuals assemble peacefully.
Under the California Penal Code Section 408 PC, it is illegal for an individual to participate in an unlawful assembly. The exact language of the statute states.
“Every person who participates in any rout or unlawful assembly is guilty of a misdemeanor.”
So what counts as an unlawful assembly? The California Penal Code Section 407 PC assists to define what an unlawful assembly is. The statute states that an unlawful assembly occurs whenever two or more persons assemble together to do an unlawful act or do a lawful act in a violent, boisterous, or tumultuous manner.
Thus, when two or more people assemble to do a lawful act, they are considered to violate the Penal Code 408 PC statute when the assembly either:
- Turns violent or
- Poses a clear and present danger of imminent violence.
- Here are a few examples of unlawful assembly violations
- A group of people meets outside the police station to protest the murder of a person of color by the police. The protest while beginning peacefully, escalates to the protestors throwing rocks at the station and the police officer’s vehicles. Anyone present at the assembly can be charged under Penal Code 408 PC.
Violating the Penal Code 408 PC is considered a misdemeanor offense. One thing you should note about being convicted under this statute is that it will go into your criminal record. The penalties for being convicted under this statute include:
- Incarceration for up to six months in county jail
- A maximum fine of $1,000
- Three to five years of informal summary probation
- Community service
- Victim restitution
Related Offenses To Unlawful Assembly
- Inciting a Riot – California Penal Code Section 404.6
- Participating in a Riot – California Penal Code 405 PC
- Failure to Disperse – California Penal Code Section 409 PC and 416 PC
- Disturbing the Peace – California Penal Code Section 415 PC
It is a prosecutor’s job to prove that you are guilty of the crime you are accused of. Thus understanding the tactics a prosecutor will use against you will do wonders in helping you in your defense. To get you convicted under the Penal Code 408 PC, the prosecution will have to prove the following two elements:
- The defendant willfully participated in an unlawful assembly
- The defendant knew the assembly was unlawful when he or she participated in it.
Willfully means that the defendant committed the act on their own accord. Thus the prosecutor needs to prove the defendant participated in the unlawful assembly on purpose. Plus, the prosecutor should also demonstrate that the defendant was well aware the assemble they were in was unlawful when they participated in it.
If the prosecutor cannot prove both of these elements. Then the defendant cannot be convicted under this statute.
There are a couple of defense strategies a criminal defense attorney can use to defend you if you are charged under the California Penal Code Section 408 PC. Let us take a look at some of the common ones.
The Assembly Was Not Violent Or Posed a Danger of Causing Imminent Violence
If the assembly did not get violent at all. Then your attorney can use this to defend you in court. Peaceful assemblies are completely legal under the constitution, and one should not be convicted for them.
The Defendant Tried To Leave The Assembly
It is not uncommon for peaceful assemblies to turn violent. Therefore if you were part of a lawful assembly that turns violent, it is advisable you leave if you do not wish to face legal charges. However, in some cases, you may not be given enough time to leave the unlawful assembly, and you may end up getting arrested.
If this happens to you, your defense attorney can use this as a defense strategy to get your charges dismissed.
The Defendant Was Not Aware They Were In An Unlawful Assembly
A key element of prosecuting a defendant for PC 408 is they need to be aware the assembly was unlawful. If the defendant did not have this knowledge. Then an attorney can use this to argue their case in court.
If you or a loved one happens to be charged for Unlawful Assembly, the best person you have by your side is an experienced criminal defense lawyer. Seppi Esfandi has been defending criminal cases, including PC 408, for over 20 years.
With him on your team. He will do everything possible to ensure you get the best case scenario from your trial case.
Need a Criminal Defense Attorney? CALL NOW: 310-274-6529
Seppi Esfandi is an Expert Criminal Defense Attorney who has over 20 years of practice defending a variety of criminal cases.
How to Win Your Case
We cannot stress enough that you read, understand and follow these 10 basic rules if you are criminally charged or under investigation:
- Don’t ever talk to the police
- Do not discuss your case with anyone
- Everything you tell your lawyer is confidential
- Tell police you need to contact your attorney
- Never consent to any search by the police
- If the police knock on your door, don't answer!
- Realize the consequences of a criminal conviction
- Your lawyer (not you) will contact any witnesses
- Information on your cell phone is evidence
- Early Intervention is the key