The most serious public order offence is riot. This offence is defined by Section 1 of the Public Order Act 1986.

If you are accused of being involved in a riot, the Prosecution must prove that:

  • You were part of a group of 12 or more people with a common purpose, 
  • That the group was using or threatening unlawful violence against people or property, and
  • That the conduct of the group would cause a reasonable person to fear for their safety

It is not necessary that all of the group present were using or threatening violence at the same time. However, it must be shown that you intended to use violence or were aware that your conduct may be violent. This offers some protection from members of a peaceful group which contains a number of members who later become violent.

Riot offences are indictable only. This means they are so serious that only the Crown Court can deal with this offence. The maximum sentence available to the Court is 10 years imprisonment, and custodial sentences are inevitable for anyone convicted of the offence.

Riots or other large-scale civil disorders, such as those from August 2011, often involve considerable amounts of evidence from CCTV and mobile phone analysis. This makes the investigations complex, and requires careful analysis of the case in order to give the best legal advice possible.

If you are accused of being involved in a riot, it is crucial that you have expert advice from a specialist criminal defence lawyer. Contact us to see if we can help you find an experienced solicitor or barrister for your case.

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Every case is unique, and everybody’s circumstances are different. If you are dealing with any of the offences discussed on this site, and need independent advice or a second opinion, contact us to see if we can help.