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Criminal Anarchy

New York criminal anarchy is a class E felony carrying a maximum penalty of 4 years in prison and a $5000.00 fine. What exactly is criminal anarchy? Don’t people have a right to protest the government? Yes, they do.

If you or someone you know was charged with criminal anarchy our skilled and aggressive New York criminal attorneys will fight your case and obtain the absolute best possible results. Call our office today for a free consultation.

Criminal anarchy is committed when a person 1) advocates for a violent uprising and removal of power of the current government of the state or 2) A person passes out leaflets, flyers, sends emails, or makes digital communications that advocates for a violent uprising against the government, or 3) A person joins an organization that propounds a violent uprising against the government, when they know what the organization stands for. The government cannot simply ban advocating for an uprising against the government. That would violate the First Amendment. The First Amendment does not protect all revolutionary speech. According the New York State Court of Appeals, revolutionary speech that evinces an obvious and immediate hazard that the uprising will actually be attempted and brought to fruition, and that revolutionary speech was made with intent to actually bring about the violent uprising can be punished without violating the First Amendment.

What distinguishes speech that may be punished as criminal anarchy from speech that is constitutionally protected? The following examples may help illustrate the difference.

Agnes, Bill, and Charlie are all marching against climate change in New York City. The group that they are marching with become restless and aggressive. Soon, cars are being broken into, stores are being looted, and a police car is lit on fire. Agnes, Bill, and Charlie get out a bullhorn, stand on top of a car, and using their bullhorn proclaim to the violent demonstrators “Down with the government and the system! Overthrow the government! Violent overthrow of the government is the only solution to climate change!”. Agnes, Bill, and Charlie are all guilty of criminal anarchy.

Xena, Younis, and Zander are demonstrating to protest gun control. They have secured a permit to protest at a pre-determined time, place, and manner, to allow the government to safely plan and facilitate their protest. Xena, Younis, and Zander are holding signs that say, “Gun Rights are Human Rights, Remove the Governor!”. Each of the three takes turns speaking from a lectern with an amplified microphone that does not exceed the noise limitations proscribed by law. Xena, Younis, and Zander each read passages from District of Columbia v. Heller. The crowd cheers but does not lash out violently. Xena, Younis, and Zander have exercised their First Amendment rights.

The government cannot ban speech that advocates use of force or violent uprisings unless there is an immediate danger that the speech will cause rioting and chaos. Simple utterances of anger and frustration at the government are not crimes. The distinguishing factor is whether the speech is intended to actually cause a violent uprising, and whether it has the actual danger to. One may wish to cause a violent uprising, but merely writing an angry letter or sending a text to a friend who share’s similar sentiments about the government is not a crime.

If you or someone you love has been arrested for criminal anarchy call our aggressive, experienced, and knowledgeable criminal lawyers today. Our New York criminal anarchy lawyers will present the strongest possible arguments in your case. Call us for a free consultation today.

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