Public Order Offences
The most serious type of Public Order offence is the riot. If you are accused of rioting, the prosecution will need to prove that:
- you were one of 12 or more people present together;
- that that group were threatening to use unlawful violence;
- that violence was connected with a common purpose; and
- that the group’s behaviour would cause a reasonably firm person to fear for their personal safety.
Riot offences are relatively rare, but there are many famous incidents where groups at initially peaceful protests have jointly used or threatened violence against people or property and this has escalated into Rioting.
Unfortunately, this means that even innocent people who are exercising their democratic right to free speech by peacefully protesting can be accused of being part of the violence and rioting and face allegations of serious criminal offences.
The offence of rioting is an indictable only offence, which means that it can only be heard in the Crown Court. The offence can carry up to 10 years imprisonment, so if you are accused of taking part in a riot it is important that you instruct a solicitor who can assess the strength of the evidence against you carefully and can advise you with your best interests in mind. Your solicitor should also consider instructing a barrister they know will present your case well and do everything they can to achieve the best possible result for you.