The U.S. Constitution protects your rights to assembly and free speech. However, these rights do not cover every situation. In fact, individuals may face criminal charges for assembling in some situations in the state of California.
California Penal Code Section 169: Picketing Near Court to Obstruct Justice covers one of these legal restrictions. Find out what specific acts are forbidden under PC 169 and learn about the penalties for a PC 169 conviction with the Simmrin Law Group.
Go Over the Definition of PC 169
A PC 169 charge should not apply every time an individual or group gathers outside a court. In fact, peaceful protects near a court are legally allowed n California. Picketing near a court to obstruct justice only occurs if someone pickets or parades near a state court while intending to prohibit the administration of justice.
Individuals may also be charged under PC 169 if they try to influence the following individuals as they carry out their duties:
- Officers of the Court
Note that – depending on the methods used to influence individuals associated with the court – citizens of California can face additional charges. The court may prosecute individuals for:
- California Penal Code Section 67 & 68: Bribery Of Or By An Executive Officer Or Public Employee
- California Penal Code Section 92 & 93: Bribery Of Judges And Jurors
- California Penal Code Section 136.1: Intimidating A Witness Or Victim
- California Penal Code Section 137 & 138: Bribery Of Or By Witnesses
Results of a PC 169 Conviction in California
The court system in California treats picketing near court to obstruct justice as a misdemeanor. A conviction under PC 169 can lead to:
- Fines of Up to $1,000
- Jail Time of Up to 6 Months
A misdemeanor conviction for picketing near court to obstruct justice will show up on an individual’s criminal record, as well.
Examples of Charges for Picketing Near Court to Obstruct Justice
Strengthen your understanding of PC 169 violations by checking out these examples:
Man A’s son has been charged with drug possession. He feels that his son is facing manufactured charges and has begun protesting outside of the court every time it is in session. However, he does not stop anyone from entering the court and he does not disturb anyone. He is carrying out a peaceful protest and should not face a PC 169 conviction.
Man B is charged with murder in a highly sensationalized case. Two large crowds – one group that believes he is innocent and another group that believes he is guilty – gather outside the court. They try to yell at witnesses and court employees every day. Once, they even gather outside the door and prevent entry. Both groups could face charges under PC 169.
A crowd gathers outside a courtroom near the end of Man C’s trial. Man C has been accused of child sexual abuse and many people believe he is guilty, but they are convinced the court will find him not-guilty. They badger anyone entering the court on official business, grow very loud, and block the door. All members of the crowd could be charged with picketing near court to obstruct justice.
Defenses to Picketing Near Court to Obstruct Justice Charges
Dealing with a PC 169 charge can be easier if you work with a criminal defense lawyer in Los Angeles. Getting professional help allows a legal team to go over the specific facts surrounding your case. Your lawyer may be able to construct a defense if:
You Had No Intent to Obstruct Justice
As we mentioned previously, you are legally allowed to speak freely in California. If you had no intention of obstructing justice or influencing the behavior of individuals involved in a court case, you should not be convicted under PC 169.
You Were Part of a Peaceful Protest
The Constitution protects your right to gather and protest. As long as your protest is peaceful, you should be allowed to gather outside of a courthouse without facing a criminal conviction here in California.
Call a Legal Team to Get Help Handling PC 169 Charges
You can get help going over your legal options if you are charged under California Penal Code Section 169: Picketing Near Court to Obstruct Justice. The Simmrin Law Group can focus on the specific charges you are facing as soon as you complete our online contact form, or call (310) 896-2723.
Get the support you need from our criminal defense lawyers, starting with a FREE initial case evaluation.