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Disturbing a Public Meeting in California Laws (PC 403) in California

PC 403: Disturbing a Public Meeting in California

Legal Definition:

PC 403: “Every person who, without the authority of law, willfully disturbs or breaks up any assembly or meeting that is not unlawful in its character, other than an assembly or meeting referred to in Section 302 of the Penal Code or Section 18340 of the Elections Code, is guilty of a misdemeanor.”

For a person to be convicted of a violation of PC 403 the prosecution must show that:

  1. You intentionally committed acts that violated a public meeting;
  2. You knew, or reasonably should have known that their acts violating the meetings,


3. Your acts substantially and unlawfully interfered with the conduct of the meeting.

What does this mean?

This charge can involve such acts as trying to throw items or blasting loud music at a peaceful protest, or even breaking up or disturbing a religious protest/meeting. This has to also be an intentional act, driving past a legal and lawful meeting, while blasting music, is only a crime if you are doing it intentionally to disturb the meeting. You are not guilty of this offense unless the acts themselves, and not the message or expressive content of the acts, substantially interfered with the conduct of the meeting.

This protects your First Amendment right to protest because you have a lawful right to protest, and your message is not a crime, it’s the act you do to accomplish it that is criminalized. This crime only penalizes a lawful meeting as well. If the meeting is an illegal assembly, it would not violate this section if you disturb that meeting.


A violation under PC 403 is a misdemeanor-only offense. If convicted of this charge as a misdemeanor, you can be sentenced to up to 6 months or 180 days in a County Jail. You would be required to serve at least 50% of that time in custody. You could also face a stay-away order from the area, and possible Restraining Order from the owners of the location on top of this. You could also be fined up to $1000 for a conviction.

PC 403 is not a strike offense under the Three Strikes Law, and it is also not a charge requiring Sex Registration under PC 290. You could potentially face a loss, suspension, or revocation of your professional license. You could also face immigration consequences if you are a non-US Citizen living in the United States, since if you have more than one misdemeanor conviction on your record already.

Common Defenses

  1. Statute of Limitations
  2. Insufficient Evidence
  3. Violation of Rights
  4. Duress
  5. Necessity

If the prosecution fails to show that you acted willfully or intentionally, then you are not guilty of this crime. Remember, if you are accidentally causing a disturbance in a lawful meeting, you are not guilty of committing the crime. Failing to show your intent, would mean that there is insufficient evidence to prove you guilty of this crime.

You also must have known that you are intentionally or should have reasonably believed that your actions would disturb the meeting. If you did not believe, even reasonably, that your act would not disturb the public meeting, you also could not be found guilty of this crime, since your intent was not to disturb, but was something lesser than an intentional disruption.

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Facing a criminal conviction can be a life-altering event, carrying serious implications for your freedom, career, and reputation. The aftermath of a conviction, with its potential impact on your employment opportunities and professional standing, underscores the necessity of a robust legal defense.

At Inland Empire Criminal Defense, our PC 403 Ontario attorney is well-versed in the complexities of criminal defense. Having successfully represented thousands of individuals facing similar challenges, we bring a wealth of experience and a strategic approach to every case. We firmly believe that each client deserves an assertive and thorough defense, tailored to their unique circumstances.

Understanding the weight of what’s at stake for you, we offer a complimentary initial consultation. This session provides an opportunity to address your concerns, discuss the specifics of your case, and explore the most effective defense strategies. Our commitment to your case extends beyond regular office hours, as we are available 24/7 to answer your questions and provide the support you need during this critical time.

Don’t navigate this challenging journey alone. Contact Inland Empire Criminal Defense at 909-939-7126. Conveniently located in Ontario, CA, we are ready to stand by your side, fight for your rights, and help safeguard your future.

Frequently Asked Questions

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Yes, understanding the financial pressures that can come with legal representation, our attorney offers flexible payment plans. This approach ensures that quality legal defense is accessible for all our clients in Riverside, San Bernardino, and Los Angeles Counties.

Yes, Inland Empire Criminal Defense offers free consultations. This is part of our commitment to providing accessible and transparent legal services to residents of Riverside, San Bernardino, and Los Angeles Counties.

We offer both in-person and over-the-phone consultations to accommodate your preferences and needs. Whether you’re in Riverside, San Bernardino, or Los Angeles County, we ensure that you can access our legal services in the way that suits you best.

Our office is typically closed on weekends. However, we do make exceptions for meetings by special arrangement. Our commitment is to be as accommodating as possible to meet the unique needs of our clients in Riverside, San Bernardino, and Los Angeles Counties.

Our legal services are specifically tailored to residents of Riverside, San Bernardino, and Los Angeles Counties. For cases outside these areas, we recommend consulting to find appropriate legal assistance. Our focused approach allows us to provide specialized defense catering to the unique legal landscape of these counties.

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