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Violent Disorder

This statutory offence commenced operation in 2017 and replaced the common offences of Rout and Riot. The charge of riot applies to a group of 6 people or more. If they use or threaten unlawful violence for a common purpose and their joint conduct causes injury or damage to property, each member of the group can be found guilty of Violent Disorder.
This charge would be heard in the Magistrates’ or County Court depending on the severity of the circumstances.
What is the legal definition of Riot?
Six (6) or more people unite with a common purpose to injure or threaten a person or damage property.

“Have you been accused of violent disorder?”

Examples of Riot
  • A group of people threaten a person in a pub and that person is in fear of their personal safety.
  • A group of people threaten a person or small group of people after a sporting match.
  • A group of people decide to damage a public statue/monument. It is destroyed and knocked over by the group.
S195I(1) of the Crimes Act 1958

Elements of the offence
The legal elements of the offences are, in essence – where six or more people are present with a common purpose which is executed or started to be executed. Each of them must have had an intent to help one another by force if necessary against anyone who opposes their purpose.

The prosecution must also establish that they used force or violence in such a manner as to intimidate by the standard of a reasonable person.
Defences to this can be a factual dispute about who did what. By their very nature riots are a mess and it is often very hard to establish who did what.

Deciding on whether to plead guilty or not has important implications for you and should be made after proper discussions with a criminal lawyer.

Questions in cases like this
  • How many people were involved?
  • Was there a common purpose?
  • Was injury or damage caused?

The maximum penalty for Violent Disorder (section 195I(1) of the Crimes Act 1958) is 10 years imprisonment, or 15 years imprisonment if the face covering is used to conceal identity or to protect from crowd controlling substances.