The Offence of Riot (NSW)
In New South Wales, the offence of riot carries a maximum penalty of 15 years imprisonment. This offence is similar to the offence of affray, and is contained in the same Part of the Crimes Act (offences related to public order). The charge that is laid will depend on the number of people involved in the altercation.
The Offence of Riot
The offence of Riot is contained in section 93B of the Crimes Act 1900 which states:
“Where 12 or more persons who are present together use or threaten unlawful violence for a common and the conduct of them (taken together) is as such as would cause a person of reasonable firmness present at the scene to fear for his or her personal safety, each of the persons using unlawful violence for the common purpose is guilty of riot and liable to imprisonment for 15 years.”
What Actions Might Constitute Riot?
The offence of riot hinges on the use or threatened use of unlawful violence by 12 or more people. A person can be charged if there is physical violence against other people, such as kicking, pushing, punching, or if they threaten to do those things.
These acts or threats must be enough to cause a person of ‘reasonable firmness’ to fear for their safety. Importantly, no such person is required to be present for the offence to be made out. It comes down to an assessment on the violence or threats – the more aggressive or serious they are, the more likely it would be that the court finds that a person of ‘reasonable firmness’ would fear for their safety if they were in that situation.
Some examples of riot include:
- A fight inside a home which quickly escalates, and in which bystanders jump in. Importantly, the offence of riot can be committed in private as well as public spaces.
- Protests or demonstrations that escalate in physical violence.
What the Police Must Prove
To convict you of riot, the Police must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused:
- Was present with twelve or more people;
- The group was collectively using or threatening to use violence; and
- The group’s actions, taken collectively, would cause a person of reasonable firmness to fear for their safety.
A person charged with riot may defend the charge by arguing:
- That they were not part of the group;
- That there were not twelve or more people in the group;
- That there was no use or threat of violence;
- That a person of reasonable firmness would not have feared for their safety.
Which Court Will Hear the Matter?
This is a Table 1 Offence. That means that the matter will be dealt with in the Local Court unless the Prosecution or the Defence elect to have the matter dealt with in the District Court.
Types of Penalties
Home Detention: As a result of amended legislation this penalty was repealed on 24 September 2018 as a standalone order but may be imposed as a condition of an Intensive Corrections Order (ICO). Home detention is an alternative to full-time imprisonment. In effect the gaol sentence is served at your address rather than in a gaol. If you receive a sentence of home detention you will be strictly supervised and subject to electronic monitoring. Read more.
Intensive Corrections Order (ICO): This option has replaced periodic detention. The court can order you to comply with a number of conditions, such as attending counselling or treatment, not consuming alcohol, complying with a curfew and performing community service. Read more.
Suspended Sentence: As a result of amended legislation this penalty was repealed on 24 September 2018. This is a jail sentence that is suspended upon you entering into a good behaviour bond. Provided the terms of the good behaviour bond are obeyed the jail sentence will not come into effect. A suspended sentence is only available for sentences of imprisonment of up to two years. Read more.
Community Service Order (CSO): As a result of amended legislation this penalty was repealed on 24 September 2018 and replaced with a Community Corrections Order (CCO). This involves either unpaid work in the community at a place specified by probation and parole or attendance at a centre to undertake a course, such as anger management. In order to be eligible for a CSO you have to be assessed by an officer of the probation service as suitable to undertake the order. Read more.
Good Behaviour Bond: As a result of amended legislation this penalty was repealed on 24 September 2018 and replaced with a Community Corrections Order (CCO). This is an order of the court that requires you to be of good behaviour for a specified period of time. The court will impose conditions that you will have to obey during the term of the good behaviour bond. The maximum duration of a good behaviour bond is five years. Read more.
Community Corrections Orders (CCO): A CCO involves the standard conditions that an offender must not commit any offence and that the offender must appear before the court if called on to do so at any time during the term of the Community Corrections Orders (CCO). Additional conditions may be imposed at the discretion of the court, both at the time of sentence and subsequently upon application by a community corrections officer, juvenile justice officer or the offender. Read more.
Conditional Release Order (CRO): A CRO involves the standard conditions that an offender must not commit any offence and that the offender must appear before the court if called on to do so at any time during the term of the CRO. Read more.
Section 10 avoiding a criminal record. Normally, when you plead guilty to a criminal offence, the court imposes a penalty and records a conviction. If the court records a conviction, you will have a criminal record. However, if we can convince the court not to convict you, there will be no penalty of any type and no criminal record. In all criminal cases, the court has the discretion not to convict you, but to give you a Section 10 dismissal instead. Read more.
If you require legal advice or representation in any legal matter, please contact Armstrong Legal.