What Is the Law on Riot in Wyoming and What Are the Punishments for It?
The 1st Amendment of the Constitution of the United States recognizes the right to peaceful assembly as an individual right, whereby each and every US citizen possesses the freedom to assemble with other people at any public place such that the said assembly:
- Has a justifiable objective which is either lawful in nature or it protests a law that is unconstitutional or an infringement on human rights, political rights and civil liberty of the citizens.
- Does not infringe upon or unlawfully violate the rights and liberties of other people.
- Does not cause any disturbance to the public order or public peace, especially in and around the place of assembly.
If individuals participating in such an assembly attempt or succeed in disturbing peace or public order by use of intimidation, coercion, threats, forceful imposition or act of violence, then such individuals are charged with the criminal offense of disturbing public peace or even rioting, until and unless their questionable actions are proven beyond doubt, to be a necessary response, to circumstances that were beyond their initiative and control, for self-defense or safety of others. In various cases where excessive, unwarranted or unnecessary use of force by a law enforcement agency are proven, this stands as valid self-defense for those protesting the against the said agency, simply because the cause of riot can be attributed to ill-executed law enforcement procedure and not the original agenda of the gatherers.
Unlike disturbing public order or peace, the offenses of riot or inciting a riot are serious misdemeanors that necessarily contain an element of violence or imminent violence. In certain states such as Wyoming, rioting and inciting a riot are included within the misdemeanor of breach of the peace as stated under the citation WC § 35-15-112. They invite the same penalties as any act of violation of the said statute. Additionally, if the offender commits unlawful activities inclusive of riots or incites a riot at a funeral or in government facilities, then it may even be subject to additional disciplinary action apart from the prescribed penalties.
Definition of Breach of Peace
Notified under WC § 35-15-112, the misdemeanor of breach of the peace is defined as an act of one or more individuals which disturbs the public peace of bystanders or inhabitants of a community or public gathering wherein:
- The offender makes unreasonably loud noises or music, uses threats, obscene or abusive language or even violent actions with the knowledge or probable cause to believe he/she will disturb the peace.
- Such acts are misdemeanors irrespective of the nature of public presence, whether that of inhabitants or gatherers at the place where the offense is committed.
It is pertinent to note that while many states specify the involvement of 2 or more people in a riot, Wyoming deems it sufficient to include elements of violence in breach of peace itself, wherein the number of perpetrators does not qualify as a defining criterion.
The said statute recognizes a breach of the peace as a misdemeanor irrespective of the use of violence and stipulates a punishment of a prison term not exceeding 6 months with or without a fine not exceeding $750
In case the breach of peace also involves a fight between two or more individuals than the offenders are punishable by additional imprisonment of up to 6 months with or without a fine of 750 dollars.
It is pertinent to note that fighting in a public place may take place without a breach of peace, therein the misdemeanor charges restrict the punishment to the aforesaid imprisonment and/or fine.