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What Is the Law on Riot in Texas and What Are the Punishments for It?

Texas has comprehensive laws detailing the minutiae of disorderly conduct laws, of which the offense of rioting falls under.

Typically, conduct that is unruly and likely to disrupt, endanger, intimidate, and/or provide frustration to the surrounding neighborhood around the offender falls under disorderly conduct.

Simple examples are:

  • Fighting in public.
  • Unlawful assembly.
  • Being drunk and boisterous in public.
  • Indecent exposure.
  • Voyeuristic behavior.
  • Being unruly in the proximity of a funeral.
  • Harassing a 911 operator.
Texas Riot Law

Disorderly conduct, as declared by Statute 42.01 occurs when a person intentionally and knowingly engage in a crime wherein

  • They use language containing obscenities and profanities while disturbing the individuals within the area, and its method of utterance or the language incites a disturbance to the peace of the common area.
  • They display vulgar language and gestures and the display by itself can be regarded as an affront and disturbance of the peace of the common area.
  • They create an offensive smell in a common area through chemical means.
  • They threaten and abuse an individual in a manner that is antagonistic.
  • They make an unjustifiable commotion in an area not a sports shooting range, or in the proximity of a private residency wherein the offender has no legal right to dwell within.
  • They disturb the peace via a violent altercation with another in a common area.
  • They discharge a gun in a common area that is not a sports shooting range
  • They brandish and display a gun in a common area with conduct calculated to raise alarm.
  • They discharge a gun through a common road.
  • They expose their genitalia or bottom in a common area and is indifferent towards other parties present that can be antagonized or offended by said act of exposure.
  • They engage in unlawful and obscene displays.
Riot Law Texas
  • They enter a property not rightfully belonging to them and is indifferent to the offense and alarm of said act.
  • They enter a property and looks into another dwelling through windows or artifices present in the dwelling.
  • They look into a guest room of another individual while legally residing within a hotel or an equivalent establishment.
  • They look into a private area such as a restroom, shower area, or designed dressing area while on the premises of a public establishment that is tended to provide reasonable privacy to those using the designated areas.
  • They gather upwards of seven individuals to participate in conduct that creates an immediate sense of danger or injury to the surrounding area, or deprives the individual government officials of their rights with the usage of force, threats, and physical actions are also disorderly conduct.
  • They appear in a common area while so intoxicated that they could reasonably be considered a danger to themselves and others while committing the crime of public intoxication.
  • They raise calls to 911 that are harassing in nature, or with the intention to report an emergency or crime that is known to the offender to be fake in nature.

What Are the Punishments for Disorderly Conduct in Texas?

Disorderly conduct crimes are generally sentenced as misdemeanors, with broad sentencing guidelines in Texas where the judge and prosecutor determine the penalty at their discretion.

There are three classes of penalties for disorderly conduct and rioting:

Class A misdemeanors receive a penalty of imprisonment no more than one year and a fine of $4000, and/or both.

Examples include making a false alarm unless the alarm in question involves a public facility or educational facility such as a school, then the crime is a felony, punishable by 180-730 days imprisonment in state prison and/or a fine limited to $10,000.

Class B misdemeanors are punishable with imprisonment limited to 180 days in a fail and a fine of $2000, and/or both.

Examples include funeral picketing, obstructing highways, disrupting a meeting and making abusive 911 calls.

Class C misdemeanors are punishable with a fine limited to $500 and no imprisonment.

Examples include discharge of a gun in a common area, but not on or across a public road and brandishing and display of a gun.


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