Taking Part in the Texas Riot

Recently, Texas has been facing challenges, experiencing riots in various parts of the state. You know, protests are cool—they’re protected by the Constitution and all that, expressing free speech and expressing themselves freely. But some of these things have gone south, landing people in hot water with criminal charges. This blog aims to discuss criminal defense strategies for individuals entangled in the aftermath of a Texas riot.

What Is Riot According To Law?

In the current Texas legal scene, they’ve laid out the Riot offense in Texas Penal Code §42.02. Allow me to provide a concise explanation for you promptly.

(a) For the intent of this subsection, a “riot” is defined as a gathering of seven or more people that results in behavior that:

(1) poses an urgent threat of property damage or bodily harm;

(2) gravely hinders law enforcement or other government duties or services; or

(3) deprives or disrupts any person’s enjoyment of a lawful right by using force, threat of force, or physical action.

(b) Participation in a riot constitutes a violation of the law.

((c) If the gathering started off legal and someone in the group decides to start causing trouble, it’s not a guilty plea if you leave the group at that point.

(d) The fact that another person engaged in the riot evaded legal consequences does not exempt you from potential arrest under this provision. It’s not a defense if they were cleared, not arrested, or convicted of a different offense or a different type of offense, or if they can’t be prosecuted.

Riot In Texas Simplified

Breaking it down from the law, there are two things the state needs to prove without a doubt for a riot conviction: the criminal act and the criminal intent.

  • They must prove a riot took place. If there weren’t at least seven people involved or none of the three actions mentioned went down, then it’s not a riot.
  • They must demonstrate that you were aware of your involvement in a riot. If you happened to be at an unfortunate location without any awareness of the situation, you may lack the requisite mental state for a riot charge.

Facing charges doesn’t necessarily imply that the state has an airtight case against you. Charges happen on probable cause, meaning the officer had some information that made them think you were, are, or were about to commit a crime. In a riot scenario, just being there might be enough for probable cause. The prosecution needs to prove you were aware of your involvement in the riot, which is no easy task.

Types of Riot

Riots can manifest in various forms, each with its own unique characteristics. In Texas, as in other places, different types of riots may occur based on the underlying causes and circumstances. Common types of observed riots include:

Civil Unrest Riots

What Happens: These riots happen when people are upset with what the government is doing, its rules, or social problems. Sometimes, peaceful protests turn into fights with the police or damage to things.

Examples: People protesting against police being too harsh, political events, or rallies about fairness in society.

Political Riots

What Happens: Riots linked to political stuff can happen during elections, protests against government choices, or arguments about political ideas. These riots might involve clashes between supporters of different political groups.

Examples: Riots around election time or protests against government decisions.

Economic Riots

What Happens: Tough economic times or unfair money situations can lead to riots where people protest against financial inequality, job problems, or economic rules. These situations might involve stealing or damaging businesses.

Examples: Riots because of bad economic times, lots of people without jobs, or when people think economic things are unfair.

Riot Charges In Texas

Riot-related punishments in Texas hinge on charges, the incident’s nature, and the severity of actions. Quick overview of potential penalties for common riot-related charges:

Rioting or Taking Part in a Riot:

  • Class B Misdemeanor: Up to 180 days in jail and fines up to $2,000.
  • Class A Misdemeanor: The potential consequences include a jail time of up to one year and fines reaching a maximum of $4,000.

Criminal Trespass:

  • Class B Misdemeanor: Up to 180 days in jail and fines up to $2,000.


  • Class A Misdemeanor to Second-Degree Felony: Up to one year in jail for a Class A misdemeanor, with more serious penalties for higher grade offense.

Criminal Mischief:

  • Class C Misdemeanor to First-Degree Felony: The penalties vary, with more serious felonies linked to more significant damage.

Arrested? Don’t Plea, Call Me!

If you or someone you know is facing riot-related charges in Texas, seeking legal counsel is crucial. A qualified criminal defense attorney can provide guidance tailored to the specific details of the riot case, help build a strong defense, and work towards achieving the best possible outcome given the circumstances. Everyone has the right to a fair trial and legal representation when facing criminal charges.