Criminal Offences


Defined as a public violent disturbance, a riot is a criminal offence in the State of NSW. Found under section 93B of the Crimes Act 1900 NSW, a riot is when you have 12 or more who are present together, use or threaten unlawful violence for a common purpose and their conduct as a whole would cause a reasonable person at the scene to fear for his or her personal safety. A common example of a riot is ferocious protests that intensify into physical violence.

Should you or someone you know be facing charges in relation to riot and public violence, it is advised to seek legal representation immediately, Contact Benjamin Leonardo – The Defenders, to schedule a confidential consultation.


Criminal charges in relation to riots are taken very seriously as seen in section 93B of the Crimes Act 1900 NSW. The act states that any one who is found guilty of the offence should be liable to a maximum penalty of imprisonment for 15 years. However, this maximum penalty only applies if the defendant is convicted in the District Court. The maximum penalty enforced in the Local Court is 2 years imprisonment.

While this is the case, it is important to know that the Court has the discretion to impose alternative penalties when appropriate. In fact, Crimes Statistic Australia revealed that during 2015-2016, only 4% of defendants convicted of a public order offence such as riot, received a custodial sentence. Evidently, less severe and more liberating penalties are likely to be imposed.

Upon consideration of the circumstances surrounding offence, past criminal history, personal character and the accused’s personal situation, the Court may determine that alternative penalties such as intensive correction orders (ICOs), home detention, community service orders (CSOs), good behaviour bonds, a monetary fine or a suspended sentence is sufficient enough, relative to the offence. The Court may also use their discretion to deal with the matter by means of a section 10 dismissal in which no conviction is recorded.


To be found guilty of riot as per section 93B of the Crimes Act 1900 (NW), the Police must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that:

  • You along with at least 12 other people;
  • Used unlawful violence for a common purpose;
  • And that the group’s collective conduct would cause a person of reasonable firmness present at the scene to fear for their own personal safety.

If the Police are able to successfully substantiate these allegations, it is likely that you will be convicted and face the aforementioned penalties. Therefore, if you tend to agree with the riot charges made against you, it may be in your best interest to plead guilty.

Although a guilty plea will result in sentencing, the outcomes can potentially be much more favourable as opposed to being found guilty otherwise. Typically, a guilty plea demonstrates regret for your actions in which the Court may be more inclined to enforce an alternative penalty or reduce the maximum sentence.

Furthermore, our Sydney based criminal defence lawyers may also be able to negotiate a deal with the prosecution team, given you enter a guilty plea. Again, this will result in a more positive outcome as opposed to being found guilty by the Court, whereby severe penalties will apply.

At Benjamin Leonardo – The Defenders, we work closely with all the clients we represent and provide honest advice if it is in your best interest to plead guilty or not guilty. If you or someone you know is facing charges relating to riot, it is advised to seek legal representation immediately.

Call our criminal lawyers now to schedule a first consultation where we can provide tailored advice pertinent to your specific matter.


If you do not believe the allegations made against you, you have the option to plead not guilty. In this instance, the case will proceed to be heard before the Court in which the Police will present evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the offence was committed. If they are successful, you may be facing the penalties mentioned above.

However, as criminal defence lawyers, it is our job to negate the allegations made by the Police on your behalf. In order to do so, we thoroughly scrutinise the evidence provided by the prosecution and provide contradictory evidence that will dismiss these claims. Our expert criminal defence lawyers will then raise an appropriate legal defence that may entirely dismiss the charges set against you, or provide a partial defence, in which the charges will be downgraded and less significant penalty will be imposed.

With a 90% success rate, our team is dedicated to achieving the best possible solution for all the cases we represent. If you or someone you know is facing charges of riot, it is best to seek legal representation immediately.

Contact our Sydney based criminal defence law firm now for a confidential consultation.


There are many possible defences that our criminal defence lawyers may use on an individual’s behalf in relation to riot charges. These defences include:

Duress: Encompasses the use of unlawful coercion to persuade a person to partake in an activity they would not usually participate in. This coercion can take form of harmful threats such as death or grievous bodily harm in which the accused believes that if they do not participate in the activity, they can be at risk.

Necessity: Involves circumstances in which the accused debates that their actions are acceptable and justifiable as they were in imminent danger by either human or natural forces. To prove that acts were a form of necessity, it must be established that the activity was only undertaken in order to avoid particular consequences that are deemed as “irreparable evil”, the individual must holistically believe that they were in a situation of “imminent peril” and that the individual believed they had no other alternatives to avoid the impending threat.

Self-Defence: Comprises of situations in which actions were taken to defend confrontations and harm by and unjust aggressor. Self-defence occurs in circumstances in which the accused aims to protect property, themselves or another person from harm by the aggressor.


Riot charges are classified as a table 1 offence in NSW. This means that the matter either be heard at the Local Court or District Court.

With 29 years of extensive experience in criminal law, Benjamin Leonardo – The Defenders have achieved exceptional results for our clients. We are home to some of Sydney’s best criminal defence lawyers and possess the knowledge, dedication and commitment to achieve to best outcome possible regardless if the matter is dealt with in Local, District and Supreme Courts. With extensive experience working in all of these Courts, our criminal defence lawyers can accurately advise you on in relation to what to expect at each.

For a first consultation, call our expert criminal law firm now.