According to the Virginia Code, any unlawful use, by three or more persons acting together, of force or violence which seriously jeopardizes public safety, peace or order is a riot.
Every person convicted of participating in any riot in Virginia shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.
If such person carried, at the time of such riot, any firearm or other deadly or dangerous weapon, he or she shall be guilty of a Class 5 felony.
Any person who conspires with others to cause or produce a riot, or directs, incites, or solicits other persons who participate in a riot to acts of force or violence, shall be guilty of a Class 5 felony.
Unlawful assembly is defined differently. Whenever three or more persons assembled share the common intent to advance some lawful or unlawful purpose by the commission of an act or acts of unlawful force or violence likely to seriously jeopardize public safety, peace or order, and the assembly actually tends to inspire persons of ordinary courage with well-grounded fear of serious and immediate breaches of public safety, peace or order, then such assembly is an unlawful assembly.
Every person who participates in any unlawful assembly shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.
If such person carried, at the time of his or her participation in an unlawful assembly, any firearm or other deadly or dangerous weapon, he or she shall be guilty of a Class 5 felony.
It is also a crime to remain at the place of a riot or unlawful assembly after receiving a warning to disperse. In Virginia, every person except the owner or lessee of the premises, his or her family and non-rioting guests, and public officers and persons assisting them, who remains at the place of any riot or unlawful assembly after having been lawfully warned to disperse, shall be guilty of a Class 3 misdemeanor.
Finally, injury to property or persons by people unlawfully or riotously assembled is identified as a separate crime. If any person or persons, unlawfully or riotously assembled, pull down, injure, or destroy any dwelling house or other building, or assist therein, or perpetrate any premeditated injury on the person of another, he or she shall be guilty of a Class 6 felony.
If you are charged with a crime or arrested while protesting in Hampton Roads, be sure to call our office for a free consultation to discuss your case before court.