A “riot” is one instance where the common definition and the legal description are similar. You will find that a riot criminal charge is similar to the usual definition of a riot is “a violent disturbance of the peace by a crowd.” Large protests can come to mind. A peaceful protest expressing American First Amendment rights of free speech is not a riot. However, if a protest becomes Disorderly Conduct, the protest can become a riot.
The criminal charge of riot is not something that you would do by yourself, but in a group. Each person receives individual Riot charges. For example, you will find yourself facing a criminal riot charge if you joined a group exhibiting Disorderly Conduct. Now you have to face a criminal charge.
If you or someone you know is facing a Riot criminal charge in Maine, I would like to discuss your case with you. Contact the Nielsen Group for your free legal consultation with an experienced criminal defense attorney.
In this article, I will attempt to answer the following questions:
- What is the Maine Statue for a criminal charge of riot?
- How can a criminal defense attorney help?
- What is the court process for riot in Maine?
- What outcomes exist for a charge of riot in Maine?
Maine Statute for a Criminal Charge of Riot
According to 17-A M.R.S.A. Section 503, a person can be guilty of the charge of riot if, “together with 5 or more others” engages in Disorderly Conduct, and with any of the following conditions:
- “With intent to commit or facilitate the commission of a crime involving physical injury or property damage against persons who are not participants; or
- When a firearm is used, or a firearm is intended to be used in the course of the disorderly conduct.”
Common ways of describing a riot in this context include “smash and grab” or “looting.”
A charge of Riot in Maine is a Class D misdemeanor. If convicted as charged, the maximum penalties would include up to $2,000.00 in fines and up to 364 days jail time.
The Benefits of having Criminal Defense Attorney
If you try to go to Court alone, the District Attorney’s Office is unlikely to want to negotiate with you. In the case of riot, there are co-defendants in the same criminal act who are facing a criminal riot charge. While the District Attorney’s Office will likely want to lump all the co-defendants together, above all a criminal defense attorney will protect your rights individually.
- What was your State of Mind during the riot? Here, the charge includes an intent to commit a crime. This means that your state of mind is important to being able to prove the charge at Court.
- Did law enforcement identify the correct defendant? A criminal defense attorney will make sure that the police identified the right individuals involved in the riot.
- Are there any mitigating circumstances to the offense? If one of the co-defendants has no other criminal history, a defense strategy is to argue an exception to the rule for the way he usually conducts himself.
The Court Process for Riot under Maine Law
The criminal charge of Riot is a misdemeanor in Main. The typical Court for this charge runs through the Unified Criminal Docket. This is the standard process for all County Courts in Maine.
The Court process begins with an Arraignment. Your criminal defense attorney can take care of Arraignment in your stead. At Arraignment, the formal charges are read to you, and you respond with an answer of Not Guilty.
After being Arraigned, the next Court date is a Dispositional Conference. The purpose of the Dispositional Conference is for the District Attorney’s Office and Criminal Defense Counsel to see if a resolution can be reached by agreement. If no agreement is reached that is acceptable to the Defendant, then the case proceeds to potential Motion Hearings and Jury Selection/ Trial.
If your criminal defense attorney filed any pretrial motions in your case, then the pretrial Motion Hearing would go forward. An example of a pretrial motion is a Suppression Motion, which tries to limit the scope of evidence allowed to be admitted into evidence at any potential trial. If no pretrial motions are filed, then the next Court date after the Dispositional Conference is Jury Selection and Jury Trial.
The possible Outcomes for Riot charges
Here are the possible outcomes for a charge of Riot in Maine:
- Dismissal– in a Dismissal, the District Attorney dismisses the criminal charge in its entirety. A dismissal is the best possible outcome in a criminal case.
- Plea Arrangement– in a Plea Arrangement, the Defendant can agree to a lesser charge, or to a different charge of the same degree of severity. For example, instead of pleading guilty to a charge of Riot, the defendant might be offered to plead guilty to a charge of Disorderly Conduct, which is a similar misdemeanor offense but could imply less serious conduct.
- Jury Verdict– if a case goes all the way through a Jury Trial, then the Jury decides whether the defendant is Guilty or Not Guilty. The Jury determination is the final say on guilt or innocence. If convicted, then the Judge will determine the sentence imposed.
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