Los Angeles Unlawful Assembly Defense Attorney
If you or a loved one has been charged with unlawful assembly in violation of California Penal Code Section 408, you should immediately contact an experienced Los Angeles Unlawful Assembly Defense Attorney at The H Law Group to represent you and keep you from going to jail. Protests in Los Angeles have erupted, so we understand that many of you want to vent your anger by protesting, but law enforcement is detaining and charging many of you with misdemeanor unlawful assembly in violation of penal code 408 PC.
You should not take a misdemeanor charge of penal code section 408 PC lightly as a conviction could result in you being sent to jail for up to six months. So, if you have been charged with unlawful assembly, contact an unlawful assembly attorney at The H Law Group to defend you and keep you from going to jail. Schedule your free consultation today by filling out the contact form below or by calling us at 1 (213) 370-0404.
What is Unlawful Assembly Under California Penal Code 408 PC?
California Penal Code Section 408 states that “Every person who participates in any rout or unlawful assembly is guilty of a misdemeanor.” California defines an unlawful assembly as one where people are assembling and committing violent acts.
For example, if a group of people goes out to protest the death of a young black man that was killed by the police, and the protest starts out peacefully, but later, the protestors start to throw rocks and destroy police vehicles, this can be labeled as an unlawful assembly. Anyone in the assembly can be charged with misdemeanor unlawful assembly in violation of Penal Code 408 PC. You have the same situation if protesters are out protesting and a group of protesters take lighters and butane and start to set tires or building on fire.
That said, if you’re going out to protest, intending to protests peacefully, but the protest becomes violent, merely being present at the location of the protest is sufficient for the prosecution to charge and convict you of unlawful assembly in violation of penal code 408 PC.
Proving a Person Guilty of Unlawful Assembly in Violation of PC 408
For the prosecution to convict a person of unlawful assembly in violation of PC 408, the prosecution must prove a number of elements beyond a reasonable doubt. If the prosecution fails to prove even one element, it will not be able to convict the defendant of this crime.
The prosecution must prove the following elements:
- The defendant willfully participated in an unlawful assembly, AND
- The defendant participated knowing that he was participating in an unlawful assembly
Note: If you’re out protesting peacefully and no one is causing violence, you cannot be charged with, nor can you be convicted of unlawful assembly. However, if some members of the protest are committing violent acts, the entire protest can be labeled as an unlawful assembly. If you continue to protest after the protest has been labeled as an unlawful assembly, you could be convicted of unlawful assembly.
Is Unlawful Assembly a Felony or a Misdemeanor?
Unlawful assembly is a misdemeanor crime that carries up to six months in county jail. So, if you have been charged with unlawful assembly, you should contact a Los Angeles Unlawful Assembly Defense Attorney to defend you and keep you from going to jail.
Examples of Lawful and Unlawful Assembly
Students at California State University Los Angeles are upset that the university decided to increase tuition fees. So, the students began to protest, holding signs showing their displeasure with the university’s decision to increase tuition. As long as the students are protesting peaceful and no violence is taking place, the students cannot be charged with, nor can they be convicted of unlawful assembly.
Police officers kill an unarmed black man in cold blood. So, a large group of individuals begins to protest peacefully throughout the city of LA. After a few hours of peaceful protests, violence begins to break out, so the police declare the protest an unlawful assembly. Anyone who joins the protest, regardless of whether he is protesting violently or not, can be charged with and convicted of unlawful assembly in violation of PC 408.
A police officer kills an unarmed black man, so the police officer is charged with murder. The officer is acquitted of all charges. So, protestors march towards the courthouse with baseball bats and clubs. It’s highly likely that this protest will be labeled as an unlawful assembly, and anyone who takes part in this protest can be charged with and convicted of unlawful assembly.
Penalties for Persons Convicted of Unlawful Assembly
If the prosecution convicts a person of unlawful assembly in violation of penal code 408, he faces the following penalties:
- Conviction of a misdemeanor offense
- Up to six months of imprisonment in county jail
- Three to five years of informal summary probation
Note: In most cases, the court does not impose the maximum jail sentence. Rather, the court sets the defendant free on informal summary probation unless the circumstances surround the defendant’s arrest are egregious.
Unlawful Assembly Defenses
If you have been charged with misdemeanor unlawful assembly, there are a number of defenses that your attorney can make to defend you.
Here are some of the defenses that your attorney may be able to make to defend you:
- The protest or assembly was not committing any form of violence (i.e., it was a completely peaceful protest)
- Although the protest was unlawful, the defendant was part of a totally different and separate group that was not acting violently
- The defendant was not given enough time to leave the group before he was arrested
- The defendant did not know that he was in an unlawful assembly
Here are some offenses that are related to the offense of unlawful assembly:
- Failure to disperse – California Penal Code 409 PC
- Disturbing the peace – California Penal Code 415 PC
- Public nuisance – California Penal Code 372 PC & 373 PC
- Inciting a riot – California Penal Code 404.6 PC
Contact an Experienced Los Angeles Unlawful Assembly Defense Attorney
If you or a loved one has been charged with unlawful assembly in violation of penal code 408 PC, you should immediately contact an experienced Los Angeles Unlawful Assembly Defense Attorney at The H Law Group to defend you and keep you from going to jail.
Our attorneys have defended numerous individuals who have been charged with this crime as a result of participating in protests that turn violent. If this sounds like the situation you or a loved one are in, the best thing you can do to ensure that you stay out of jail is to hire an experienced unlawful assembly defense attorney to defend you. Schedule your free consultation today by filling out the contact form below or by calling us at 1 (213) 370-0404.