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Unlawful Assembly Laws (PC 407, 408 & 409) in California

PC 407: Unlawful Assembly

Legal Definition: Whenever two or more persons assemble together to do an unlawful act or do a lawful act in a violent, boisterous, or tumultuous manner, such assembly is an unlawful assembly.

For a person to be convicted of a violation of PC 407, the prosecution must prove the following:

1. You were present at the location of a riot/rout/unlawful assembly;

2. A public officer lawfully ordered you to disperse;

3. You willfully remained present at the location of the riot/rout/unlawful assembly after the order to disperse;


4. You were not a public officer or a person assisting an officer in attempting to disperse the riot/rout/unlawful assembly.

What does this mean?

Someone commits an act willfully when he or she does it willingly or on purpose. A riot occurs when two or more people, acting together and without legal authority, disturb the public peace by using force or violence or by threatening to use force or violence with the immediate ability to carry out those threats. A rout occurs when two or more people, assembled and acting together, make an attempt to commit or advance toward committing an act that would be a riot if actually committed.

An unlawful assembly occurs when two or more people assemble together to commit a crime/to do a lawful act in a violent manner. When two or more people assemble to do a lawful act in a violent manner, the assembly is not unlawful unless violence actually occurs or there is a clear and present danger that violence will occur immediately. Crowds in general can cause a danger to the public as a whole, as more people that are willing to engage in criminal conduct, others can see, and subsequently join in. Watch any Black Friday video from Walmart to see the best examples of this.

For you to know that the assembly is unlawful is shown by circumstantial evidence such as violent protesters, looters, rioters, others fighting and crowds shouting at each other is clear and obvious that the assembly is not lawful. If you are not found to knowingly and willingly participate in an unlawful assembly or riot, or rout, then you cannot be found guilty under this section.

A public officer lawfully warns people to disperse when the officer directs them, in the name of the People of the State, to immediately disperse. The officer is not required to use any particular words. However, the words used must be sufficient to inform a reasonable person that the officer is acting in an official capacity and ordering people to leave the area. In addition, the officer must communicate the order in a reasonable way that ensures that the order is heard.


A violation under PC 407, PC 408, or PC 409 is a misdemeanor-only offense. If you are found guilty under any of these sections, you could be sentenced to up to 180 days in County Jail. You would be required to serve 50% of that sentence. In addition to jail time, you could be subject to harsh probation terms, fines and fees, and paying for any damages your unlawful assembly, riot or rout caused.

This is not a strike under the Three Strike’s Law. It is also not a crime of moral turpitude, but people in the United States on a temporary basis, or people with professional licenses, can be looked down upon for a conviction under this section.

Common Defenses

  1. Statute of Limitations
  2. Insufficient Evidence
  3. Mistake of Fact
  4. Freedom of Association Rights (Constitutional Defense)

In general, you have a riot under the 1st Amendment to assemble. If the assembly is unlawful, that is where you could run into legal issues and violations under this section. You are lawfully allowed to associate with others in public, but the line is drawn where you begin rioting, causing damages and problems among others in the area. But again, it is not a crime to be in an assembly for lawful purposes, and a few bad apples, decide to turn it unlawful without you knowing or consenting.

Call Today

The consequences of a criminal conviction go beyond the immediate legal penalties, impacting every aspect of your life, including your educational prospects, job potential, and future earnings. The prospect of jail time, significant fines, and the lasting stigma on your criminal record can be overwhelming. In these challenging times, it’s essential to have an advocate skilled in dissecting the prosecution’s case, identifying weaknesses, and presenting a strong defense on your behalf.

At Inland Empire Criminal Defense, we specialize in cases involving rioting, unlawful assembly, and routing, specifically under PC 407, PC 408, and PC 409. Our Ontario-based attorney has a proven track record of successfully defending numerous individuals faced with these charges, leveraging extensive experience to protect your rights and secure a positive outcome.

Why Inland Empire Criminal Defense for PC 407, 408, and 409 Charges?

  • Expertise in Rioting and Unlawful Assembly Defense: Our attorney’s specialization in charges related to PC 407, 408, and 409 ensures that your defense is informed by a deep understanding of these specific legal areas.
  • Proven Defense Strategies: With a history of successful case outcomes, we bring informed and effective defense strategies to your case, aimed at challenging the prosecution’s claims and securing the best possible results.
  • Dedicated Support: Recognizing the stress and uncertainty that come with facing criminal charges, we offer round-the-clock availability to address your concerns, providing the reassurance and guidance you need during this difficult time.

Begin Your Defense Journey with Confidence

The impact of rioting and unlawful assembly charges under PC 407, 408, and 409 necessitates immediate, informed, and strategic legal action. Inland Empire Criminal Defense, located in Ontario, CA, is ready to provide the experienced and specialized legal support necessary to effectively confront these allegations.

Contact Inland Empire Criminal Defense Today

Facing charges related to rioting, unlawful assembly, or routing? Don’t navigate this complex legal challenge alone. Contact Inland Empire Criminal Defense at 909-939-7126 for a free initial consultation. Our Ontario-based team is here to offer expert legal counsel and dedicated advocacy, ensuring that you have the support and representation needed to navigate through this critical period. Let our expertise and commitment work to your advantage.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s)

Does the attorney offer confidential consultations?

Absolutely, Inland Empire Criminal Defense prioritizes your privacy and confidentiality. Every consultation with our attorney is conducted with the utmost discretion, ensuring your information remains secure and private.

Does the attorney offer payment plans?

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.

Is the consultation free?

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.

Are the consultations in person or only over the phone?

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.

Is the office open on weekends?

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.

Does the attorney serve all of California?

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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