Media sources have reported that following the Penn State victory over Ohio State there was a riot in downtown State College. Merrian-Websters Dictionary defines riot as “a situation in which a large group of people behave in a violent and uncontrolled way.”
The Pennsylvania Crimes Code however defines riot in a slightly different way providing what is needed to prove a person guilty of a third degree felony of participating in a riot. The Crimes Code states a person is guilty of a riot if he participates with two or more others in a course of disorderly conduct: with the intent to commit or facilitate the commission of felony or misdemeanor; with the intent to prevent of coerce official action; or when the actor or any other participant to the knowledge of the actor uses or plans to use a firearm or other deadly weapon. 18 Pa CS 5501.
It is not necessary for a person to agree with others that they will jointly be involved in a riot. Simply being part of the crowd can have a person facing a third-degree felony.
The fact that a light pole was torn down or a fire was set has been sufficient in Centre County Court to find a person guilty of riot.
The penalty for a third-degree felony is a fine of up to $15,000 and a term of imprisonment for not more than seven years. Therefore, anyone charged with the crime of riot must take the matter very seriously and understand the long term consequences such a conviction could have on their record.