Protests and other similar gatherings are a great way to make your political stance and other points known. They are a great way to fight for your cause, as long as you handle the situations the right way.
All protests and similar gatherings must be peaceful. If they start to get violent or begin to disturb the peace, you might find yourself in legal hot water. Interestingly, criminal charges in these cases can come from minor oversights like not paying attention to where the protest is occurring.
Rioting and inciting riots can become federal crimes if you are preventing interstate travel or if the crime crosses state lines. On top of worrying about violating the federal law, you also have to determine if your actions will violate state law.
If you are planning a protest, you should find out if you need a permit for the gathering. Even though you do have the right to gather, some municipalities require you to obtain a permit to protest. Without the permit, you might automatically find yourself facing criminal charges.
On top of obtaining a permit, you must ensure that you remain in the area where you are allowed to be. Just because you are protesting doesn't mean that you can go wherever you want. For example, marching on a sidewalk is fine; however, you can't cross into someone's yard unless you have his or her permission and you can't block traffic without running the risk of arrest.
If you find that you are facing rioting charges on a state or federal level, you should work to get your defense strategy planned.
Source: FindLaw, "Rioting and Inciting Riots," accessed July 21, 2017