Despite continued executive order in Pennsylvania and New Jersey to maintain face masks, social distancing and groups beyond 25, local police must deal with protests following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Riots are occurring around the country and unfortunately, in the city of Philadelphia, along in its surrounding Montgomery, Bucks, Delaware, Chester counties and throughout South Jersey (Camden, Salem Cumberland, Gloucester, Burlington, Mercer, Cape May, Atlantic.)
Rioting is felony criminal charge in Pennsylvania and New Jersey
Rioting (Title 18, Section 5501, PA; 2C: 33-1, NJ) is a felony criminal charge in Pennsylvania and New Jersey! It is a felony of the 3rd degree in Pennsylvania and a person is guilty of a riot if he or she, with 2 or more persons, engages in a disorderly course of conduct with an intent to commit or facilitate the commission of a felony or misdemeanor. A riot also occurs if a group of individuals attempts to prevent or coerce officials such as the local police or the National Guard from restoring order. In addition to a riot charge, a person who engages in such activity, can also be charged with robbery, burglary, or criminal trespass. All these charges are felonies in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
Criminal charges for rioting and violent protesters in Pennsylvania and New Jersey
A person is guilty of a burglary (Title 18, Section 3502, PA; 2C: 18-2, NJ) if, while committing a theft, he or she inflicts serious bodily injury or threatens another with serious bodily injury. The gradation of robbery is dependent upon the level of force imposed and can range from a felony of the 1st to a felony of the 3rd degree in Pennsylvania (See Title 18 § 3701).
Burglary is a felony charge which, like robbery, can range in gradation from a felony of the 1st or 2nd degree (See Title 18 § 3502). a person is guilty of burglary if they enter a building or occupied structure with the intent to commit a crime within. If the building or structure is not adapted for overnight accommodations (a house or residence) and if no individual is present at the time of the entry, it is a felony of the 2nd degree; in all other cases burglary is a felony of the 1st degree.
Failure to Disperse Criminal Charge
In addition to these charges, a person who fails to abide by curfew or other government restrictions, could face a charge of failure to disperse upon official order (See Title 18 § 5502). Unlike robbery, burglary, trespassing, and rioting, this is a misdemeanor charge (misdemeanor of the 2nd degree). Disorderly conduct is a lesser included offense within failure to disperse. It is a misdemeanor of the 3rd degree but can also be graded as a summary charge.
Criminal trespass (Title 18, 3503, PA; 2C: 18-3, NJ) is a felony offense in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. It is a felony of the 3rd degree if a person gains entry by subterfuge or surreptitiously remains in any building or occupied structure or any portion of it. It is a felony of the 2nd degree if a person breaks into a building or occupied structure.
Trespassing can also be graded as a misdemeanor (misdemeanor of the 3rd degree—defiant trespasser) if the person enters or remains to any place to which notice to trespass is given either through actual communication to the actor or through signage.
Is New Jersey Different? Rioting in New Jersey
Our criminal defense law firm represents accused persons in New Jersey throughout Camden, Salem Cumberland, Gloucester, Burlington, Mercer, Cape May, Atlantic. Like Pennsylvania, grades robbery, burglary, and trespassing, as well as rioting at the felony level. New Jersey categorizes crimes according to crimes of the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, & 4th degree (indictable offenses). Robbery (2C: 15-1) is a crime of the 2nd degree if, while committing a theft, the actor inflicts bodily injury or threatens bodily injury; it is a crime of the 1st degree if the actor inflicts or threatens serious bodily injury.
Like Pennsylvania, burglary in New Jersey (2C: 18-2) is graded on the circumstances surrounding the incident. It is a crime of the 2nd degree if the actor inflicts or attempts to inflict bodily injury while a crime of the 3rd degree if the actor enters an occupied structure (2C: 18-2).
Rioting in New Jersey (2C: 33-1) is a crime of the 3rd degree if it is committed with a deadly weapon or firearm, otherwise it is a crime of the 4th degree. Similar to Pennsylvania, disorderly persons who fail to disperse pursuant to an official order (curfew) is guilty of a disorderly person’s offense (non-indictable).
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