The offence of Riot is contained in section 93B of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) which states:

“Where 12 or more persons who are present together use or threaten unlawful violence for a common and the conduct of them (taken together) is as such as would cause a person of reasonable firmness present at the scene to fear for his or her personal safety, each of the persons using unlawful violence for the common purpose is guilty of riot and liable to imprisonment for 15 years.”

The nature and elements of the offence of Riot were also considered in R v Hawi (No 18) (2011) NSWSC 1664 wherein the issues of common purpose were discussed. Here it was held Each person involved in the unlawful violence can be found guilty of riot.

There have been many examples of riots in Australia, many of these are either in Correctional Centres or as the below example illustrates in Migration Detention Centres and occur even when someone is not specifically wanting to be involved in a riot but only wants to protest.

For instance, on 20 April 2011, the a detainee at the Villawood Detention Centre joined a protest with other detainees on the roof of the building. Consequently, tiles were removed from the roof and thrown in the direction of security officers trying to control the protest. The person in question was subsequently charged with riot and affray per Crimes Act 1900 (NSW).  He pleaded guilty only to affray and argued at trial, that he was not "present together" with 11 other persons using or threatening unlawful violence: there were not 12 detainees behaving violently on the roof thus did not meet the all the elements of the offence of riot. However, the Court rejected this argument and ruled that being together could amount to people on opposite ends of say a football stadium and/or building.


Maximum/Possible Penalties

Riot can be punished with a prison sentence of up to 2 years (if heard in the Local Court) or up to 15 years (If heard in the District Court).

Please note these penalties are the for the worst kinds of offending and are unlikely to be what you would receive. 

In NSW, a court can impose any of the following penalties for a Riot charge of:

  • Full time Imprisonment;
  • Intensive Corrections Order (ICO);
  • Community Correction Order (CCO);
  • Conditional release Order (CRO)



Since Riot offence is a criminal offence, the burden of proof lies on the Prosecution.

The prosecution must prove each of the elements in the charge beyond reasonable doubt being:

  • That you were present with twelve or more people;
  • That the group was collectively using or threatening to use violence; and
  • That the group’s actions, taken collectively, would cause a person of reasonable firmness to fear for their safety.



Some of the possible defences can include;

  • To argue that you were not part of the group;
  • To argue that there were not twelve or more people in the group;
  • To argue that there was no use or threat of violence;
  • To argue that a person of reasonable firmness would not have feared for their safety.
  • It may also be possible to raise the defences of
  • Necessity;
  • Self-Defence or
  • Duress;



For Riot, Rep-Revive Criminal Lawyers® offers the following options:

  1. We initiate negotiation with prosecutors (police/DPP) (a term referred to as “plea negotiations”) and plead to withdrawal or downgrade of the charge or alternatively, seek amendments to the police fact sheets or documents.
  2. At the hearing/trial, Rep-Revive Criminal Lawyers® shall if you so instruct Plead Not Guilty and drive the argument based on prosecution’s inability to prove the elements of their accusation.
  3. Alternatively, Rep-Revive Criminal Lawyers® may plead guilty on your instructions however, the hearing shall revolve around the facts with an objective to obtain a moderate or minimum punishment.
  4. Lastly, Rep-Revive Criminal Lawyers® on your instructions enter a plea of guilt where you accept all the charges pressed by the police, but we present a case so solid on your behalf, with an objective to persuade and convince the Court to not record a criminal conviction against you.

For further information on your choices at law click on (CHOICES AT LAW tab on our website)



There are several reasons to engage Rep-Revive Criminal Lawyers®:

  •  We are always in your corner

At Rep-Revive Criminal Lawyers® we understand the gravity of a criminal charge on your reputation. Thus, we work with the utmost diligence and fervour to restore any dints to our client’s repute. We fight for your rights and liberty earnestly, and for the best results, irrespective of the intensity of the matter. All these factors have made us known in the industry as always being in our client’s corner. 

  •  We bring about excellent results

Rep-Revive Criminal Lawyers® is driven by positive outcomes and defend your case with skills which have been sharpened by years of experience. You will be dealing with lawyers who are proficient at their craft and will defend your case with rigour and an aim to have the matter withdrawn, downgraded, dismissed or the minimal penalty available at law imposed.

Rep-Revive Criminal Lawyers® are adept in all forms of advocacy and will present your case in the most skilful manner in Court. 

  • Your case will be in the hands of an experienced lawyer

Irrespective of your decision in deciding the course of the case, you will be supported and guided by Rep-Revive Criminal Lawyers® who have been in the provision of legal service for over 21 years. 

If you are caught up in this charge our team at Rep-Revive Criminal Lawyers® are best suited for representing your case.

Please contact our office on 0419 998 398 or 0492 857 721 or email for more information. The first consultation is free.

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