What Types of Powers Do Law Enforcement Officers Have During Times of Rioting in Virginia?

According to the Code of Virginia, if it appears to the Governor that the power of the locality is not sufficient to enable the sheriff or other officer to execute process delivered to him or to suppress riots to preserve the peace, he may order law-enforcement agencies, National Guard, militia or other agencies of the Commonwealth or localities as may be necessary to execute such process and to preserve the peace. All persons so ordered or summoned by the Governor are required to attend and act.

Any person who, without lawful cause refuses or neglects to obey the command, shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.

Furthermore, the Code of Virginia gives police officers immunity with regard to executing their duties during a riot. Specifically, no liability, criminal or civil, shall be imposed upon any person authorized to disperse or assisting in dispersing a riot or unlawful assembly for any action of such person which was unlawfully assembled had, been commanded to disperse, and which was reasonably necessary under all the circumstances to disperse such riot or unlawful assembly or to arrest those who failed or refused to disperse.

Finally, it is important to know that any person, who after the publication by the Governor, or who after lawful notice to disperse and retire, resists or aids in resisting the execution of process in any county, city or town declared to be in a state of riot or insurrection, or who aids or attempts the rescue or escape of another from lawful custody or confinement, or who resists or aids in resisting a force ordered out by the Governor or any sheriff or other officer to quell or suppress an insurrection or riot, shall be guilty of a Class 5 felony.

If you are charged with a crime or arrested during a protest or riot, be sure to call our office for a free consultation.