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Riot

Nature And Elements

Riot is an offense against the public peace and good order, rather than a violation of the rights of any particular person. It is not commonly applied to brief disturbances, even if malicious mischief and violence are involved in the commotion. For example, a lock company was picketed in a labor dispute. When the police attempted to escort some people through the picket line, a brief general commotion, some scuffling, and an exchange of blows took place. The police testified that the entire fracas lasted about "two or three minutes." The court held that the crime of riot does not apply to brief disturbances, even those involving violence, nor to disturbances that occur during the picketing accompanying a labor dispute.

The elements that comprise the offense are determined either by the COMMON LAW or by the statute defining it. In some jurisdictions, the necessary elements are an unlawful assembly, the intent to provide mutual assistance against lawful authority, and acts of violence. Under some statutes, the elements are the use of force or violence, or threats to use force and violence, along with the immediate power of execution.

Other statutes provide that the essential elements are an assembly of persons for any unlawful purpose; the use of force or violence against persons or property; an attempt or threat to use force or violence or to do any unlawful act, coupled with the power of immediate execution; and a resulting disturbance of the peace.

The element of force or violence required under the common law means a defiance of lawful authority and the rights of other persons. Similarly the force or violence contemplated by the statutes is the united force of the participants acting in concert with the increased capacity to overcome resistance. The statutes further specify that the type of force and violence, not mere physical exertion, must threaten law-abiding nonparticipants.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationFree Legal Encyclopedia: Reputation to Owen Josephus RobertsRiot - Nature And Elements, Riotous Conduct, Common Intent, Terror, Suppression Of Riot - Number of Persons Necessary, Purpose of Original Assembly, Persons Liable, Municipal Liability, Defenses