RIOT, OBSTRUCTION, AND DISRUPTION

A person commits the offense of riot when he or she, along with an assembly of a certain number of persons, creates an immediate danger of injury to property or to other persons or when he or she substantially interferes or obstructs law enforcement or other government functions or services. A person also commits the offense of riot when his or her use of force, threat of force, or physical action deprives another person of a legal right or disturbs the other person in the enjoyment of his or her legal rights.

In order to be convicted of the offense of riot, a person must knowingly participate in the assembly. This element is essential to the offense.

A person does not have to solicit, encourage, aid, or attempt to aid another person in order to be guilty of the offense of riot. The person is guilty of the offense if he or she participates in the assembly with the knowledge that the assembly will result in an immediate danger to property or to other persons, will substantially interfere with law enforcement, or will deprive another person of his or her rights.

A defendant who is charged with the offense of riot may claim as a defense that the assembly was lawful and that he or she left the assembly when it appeared that the assembly would become unlawful. The defendant may not claim as a defense that other persons were not arrested, prosecuted, or convicted of the offense.

The offense of riot is normally punished as a misdemeanor. The offense may be punished as a felony if an underlying felony occurs during the commission of the offense.

A person commits the offense of obstructing a highway when he or she, without legal authority, intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly obstructs a highway, street, sidewalk, entrance or exit to building, or any other place to which the public has access. A person also commits the offense of obstructing a highway when he or she disobeys a request by a peace officer, a fireman, or another law enforcement officer to move from a highway or any other place to which the public has access.

The word “obstruct” is defined as making an area or a passageway unreasonably inconvenient or hazardous.

Even though the offense of obstructing a highway may be committed upon either a defendant’s actual obstruction of an area or upon the defendant’s failure to obey an order to move, if the defendant’s conduct consists of speech or assembly, the defendant may not be arrested for obstructing a highway unless he or she has been ordered to move or to disperse by a peace officer or a law enforcement officer. In such a situation, the defendant may claim as a defense that no order was given by the peace officer or the law enforcement officer, that the order was unreasonable, that he or she was not given a reasonable time to obey the order, or that he or she obeyed the order.

The offense of obstructing a highway is normally punished as a misdemeanor.

A person commits an offense if he or she obstructs or interferes with a lawful meeting or gathering with the intent to prevent or to disrupt the meeting or the gathering. A defendant may commit the offense of disrupting a meeting or a gathering by either physical or verbal acts. However, the essential element of the offense is the defendant’s intent to disrupt the meeting or the gathering.

The offense of disrupting a meeting or a gathering is normally punished as a misdemeanor.

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