2006 Ohio Revised Code - 2917.01. Inciting to violence.

§ 2917.01. Inciting to violence.

(A)  No person shall knowingly engage in conduct designed to urge or incite another to commit any offense of violence, when either of the following apply: 

(1) The conduct takes place under circumstances that create a clear and present danger that any offense of violence will be committed; 

(2) The conduct proximately results in the commission of any offense of violence. 

(B)  Whoever violates this section is guilty of inciting to violence. If the offense of violence that the other person is being urged or incited to commit is a misdemeanor, inciting to violence is a misdemeanor of the first degree. If the offense of violence that the other person is being urged or incited to commit is a felony, inciting to violence is a felony of the third degree. 

HISTORY: 134 v H 511 (Eff 1-1-74); 146 v S 2. Eff 7-1-96.

Not analogous to former RC § 2917.01 (RS § 6900; S&C 432, 457, 457a; 29 v 144; 57 v 47; 70 v 155; GC §§ 12823, 12824; 102 v 129; Bureau of Code Revision, 10-1-53), repealed 134 v H 511, § 2, eff 1-1-74.

The effective date is set by section 6 of SB 2. 


19xx Committee Report or Comment.

1974 Committee Comment to H 511

This section provides a proscription against abuse of the right of free speech and expression by consciously, and under explosive circumstances, spurring others to violence. Although the section is the offspring of the crime of inciting to riot, it is not limited to that alone, but includes inciting one person or many to any offense of violence, including riot. 

The state has inherent authority to protect itself and its citizens from violence, and to this end may limit speech and expression which preaches it, provided there is an obvious and imminent danger that such conduct will actually result in the evil which the state has the right to prevent. Schenck v. United States, 249 U.S. 47, 63 L.Ed. 470, 39 S.Ct. 247 (1919); Dennis v. United States, 341 U.S. 494, 71 S.Ct. 857, 95 L.Ed. 1137 (1951). This section specifically includes a "clear and present danger" test. Thus, advocating mob violence in an academic speech to a phlegmatic audience is unlikely to move listeners to take to the streets, and is not a violation of this section no matter how ill-judged the speaker's remarks may otherwise seem. On the other hand, advocating violent action to a tense audience in an already riot-torn area could well re-light the fuse, and may therefore be a violation of this section even though no violence actually results. 

Regardless of the apparent atmosphere in which an inciter's conduct takes place, if his speech or actions are designed to move others to violence and actually do so, he is guilty of an offense under this section. In this respect, it is sufficient if he advocates some kind of violence and some kind of violence is committed as a result. If his conduct ultimately impels his listeners to commit arson, he cannot plead that his conduct only urged action amounting to simple riot. Conversely, if he urges arson, he cannot subsequently plead that the only incident which resulted was the "trashing" of a few parked cars. The former Ohio law on inciting only prohibited inciting to first degree riot. One of the phenomena of mob dynamics, however, is that assemblies which begin as merely disorderly frequently degenerate into Donnybrook Fairs. Agitators could use this phenomenon to their advantage, and escape accountability for their actions by carefully advocating a lesser species of violence, knowing that the odds ultimately favored more serious results. 

While an offender may be guilty of a violation of this section even though no violence actually results from his conduct, it should be noted that if violence does result he is guilty not only of an offense under this section but also of complicity in the resulting crime, under section 2923.03 of the Revised Code. 

Inciting to violence is a felony of the third degree. 

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