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Is it Protesting, or is it Looting And Rioting? What does Michigan Law Say?

You would have to have lived under a rock for the last few weeks to be completely unaware of the protests and riots that have taken place in cities across America in recent weeks. Maybe you saw the videos from Detroit, Grand Rapids, East Lansing, and Lansing. Our nation is in the midst of a very turbulent period, and people all over the country have been exercising their first amendment right to gather in peaceful assembly and protest things they believe shouldn’t be part of a forward-thinking society. But not all protests are as peaceful as others. 

A fire burning in an empty street littered with trash, showing the aftermath of a riot.

Protesting is legal. Rioting is not.

Sometimes all it takes is a small group of people to turn a large peaceful gathering into a riot, rife with looting and destruction. Here at The Kronzek Firm we believe very strongly that your First Amendment right to free speech and assembly must be protected. However we also know how quickly a protest can devolve into an unstructured riot, and what Michigan law says about that. So we’d like to take a moment to inform our readers. Because let’s face it – regardless of the subject, knowledge is power.

Inciting a riot is illegal in Michigan

Under Michigan law, inciting a riot includes a number of behaviors, including:

  • Actions that encourage others to engage in acts of violence
  • Doing anything that urges an ongoing riot to continue
  • Burning property
  • Damaging or destroying property
  • Interfering with a police officer, fireman, or member of the national guard assigned to riot duty

What happens when you’re charged with inciting a riot?

Anyone convicted of inciting a riot in Michigan is looking at a felony charge on their record. This is punishable by up to ten years in prison, and fines of up to $10,000 or both. This particular punishment also applies if you’re convicted of rioting, or engaging in a riot at a correctional facility. If you’re convicted of Unlawful Assembly, which means getting together with four or more other people to start a riot, or participate in a riot, you’re looking at five years in prison and a $5,000 fine, or both.

There are lots of other charges that could be brought against rioters. Arson is a good place to start with those rioters that set fires and destroyed property and jobs. Felony assault charges will surely be on the table for those that threw bricks or other dangerous objects at other people. If the “other people” included a police officer, it gets even worse. We’ll also see charges of resisting and obstructing an officer. Of course, there are other penalties here in Michigan for violating curfew orders and for other forms of disorderly conduct. 

What to do if you’re facing riot charges in Michigan.

If you’ve been accused of inciting a riot, or any other riot-related charges, like the destruction of property, theft, or arson, you’re going to need help from an aggressive criminal defense attorney with a long history of success in the courtroom. Here at The Kronzek Firm, our experienced trial attorneys have been helping people from Lansing, Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, Howell, and Jackson to fight criminal charges stemming from riots and riot-related crimes for years. We also help clients by protecting their rights throughout their interactions with the criminal justice system, from their initial arrest, to whatever comes afterward. Call 866 766 5245 right now to speak with an attorney who will fight aggressively for you. You can reach us 24/7 by calling 866 7NoJail.  

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