Individuals in California are given the right to assemble in the Constitution. However, there are a number of exceptions to this right. For example, individuals who have assembled may be ordered to disperse if their crowd becomes a threat to the property or well-being of others.
Anyone that refuses to leave in this circumstance could face criminal charges under California Penal Code Section 409 and 416: Refusal to Disperse. These charges may also be referred to as:
- Failure to Disperse
- Remaining at the Place of a Riot
You can learn more about these two penal codes with the legal professionals at the Simmrin Law Group. Focus on the penalties for a conviction for refusal to disperse. You can also consider legal defenses to PC 409 and 416 charges.
Defining California Penal Code Section 409
According to California Penal Code Section 409, it is illegal for an individual in California to remain at the site of a:
- Riot, Rout, or Unlawful Assembly
- After They Are Lawfully Ordered to Disperse
Note that the court system in California uses a very specific definition for unlawful assemblies. Unlawful assemblies only occur if a crowd begins to act in a way that is violent or likely to cause others to act in a violent manner.
Defining California Penal Code Section 416
PC 416 deals with more specific instances of refusal to disperse. This charge may be used only if:
- Two or More People Assemble
- In Order to Commit an Unlawful Act or Disturb the Public Peace AND
- They Don’t Disperse After Being Lawfully Commanded to Do So
Neither PC 409 nor PC 416 charges should be used to prosecute individuals who engaged in a lawful assembly.
Charges Like Refusal to Disperse in California
The state court system in California uses a number of charges that resemble PC 409 and 416. Individuals could face criminal charges if they are accused of:
- California Penal Code Section 404.6: Inciting a Riot
- California Penal Code Section 405: Participating in a Riot
- California Penal Code Section 408: Unlawful Assembly
- California Penal Code Section 415: Disturbing the Peace
Note that if any unlawful assemblies turn violent, additional criminal charges tied to these violent acts may apply. Individuals could face prosecution for assault or battery, depending upon the severity of the violence.
A conviction for any of these charges could lead to a lengthy period of incarceration and high fines. The exact penalties will vary depending upon the specific charge handed down by the court.
Penalties for PC 409 and 416 Convictions in California
Both PC 409 and 416 are treated as misdemeanors in the state of California. Both charges can lead to up to six months of time in jail. Individuals may also be forced to pay fines if they are convicted of refusal to disperse in the state of California.
Options for a Legal Defense for PC 409 and 416 Charges
You have legal options when it comes to handling charges for refusal to disperse. A criminal defense lawyer in Los Angeles can help you build a defense if you are charged with PC 409 or 416. Based on your legal situation, your lawyer could work to show that:
You Were Not Involved in an Unlawful or Violent Assembly
Refusal to disperse charges should only apply in California if you refused to leave an assembly that was violent or unlawful. If you were exercising your Constitutional right to assemble in a lawful, non-violent way, you should not face a conviction under PC 409 or 416.
You Were Not Actually a Part of the Unlawful Assembly
Most unlawful assemblies occur in public places. This means that uninvolved bystanders may be arrested along with members of the crowd, even if they were not connected to the assembly. Demonstrating your innocence can help you beat PC 409 or 416 charges.
You Did Not Receive Clear Orders to Disperse
Individuals should only be charged with refusal to disperse if they were clearly asked to leave the area and refused. If you were not told that you needed to disperse, you should not be convicted based on PC 409 or 416 charges.
Speak with a Legal Professional About PC 409 and 419 Charges
You can immediately improve your odds of successfully handling California Penal Code Section 409 and 416: Refusal to Disperse charges by reaching out to a criminal defense lawyer in Los Angeles. Start getting the help you need with a FREE initial case evaluation from the Simmrin Law Group.
You can focus on building a defense by completing our online contact form or calling (310) 896-2723.