Crimes against Public Order

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What Are Crimes against Public Order??

Crimes against public order are defined as any violation involving interference with the normal operation of society. These are crimes that go against publicly shared values, norms, or customs.  Such crimes are also called “public-order crimes”, and may vary from state to state.

An interesting aspect of many public-order crimes is that there often doesn’t need to be an identifiable victim. Instead, conduct or acts that are considered “harmful to society” can be prosecuted under public-order crime laws. Even if no specific person was harmed, the activity will result in criminal charges due to the offensive nature of the conduct.

What Are Some Examples of Crimes against Public Order?

The most common examples of crimes against public order are drug crimes and prostitution crimes. The category may also include other crimes like disorderly conduct, public drunkenness, or alcohol-related crimes. 

In some jurisdictions, public-order crimes are broadly defined and may include under-age sex, pornography-related crimes, and private recreational drug use. Since public-order crimes are based on societal norms, the definition may vary depending on the moral and ethical stance of a given community.    

What Are the Legal Consequences of Public-Order Crimes?

Legal penalties for crimes against public order will also vary depending on the crime. Some of the less serious charges like disorderly conduct may only result in misdemeanor charges or even a simple citation. The offender will usually have to pay a small monetary fine and might be required to serve a short jail sentence. 

However, more serious crimes, such as those involving drugs, can result in felony charges. This will result in a longer sentence in a prison facility, and higher monetary fines. Public-order crimes that involve minors may also result in felony charges. Finally, repeat offenses will also result in increased penalties, and can have the effect of elevating a simple misdemeanor charge to felony status. 

Are There any Defenses to Crimes against Public Order?

Most standard criminal defenses will apply to public order crimes. These can include defenses such as duress/coercion, intoxication, or self-defense. Some defenses will not completely excuse a defendant from charges, but may help to obtain a lesser sentence.

Also, crimes against public order are often subject to debate, especially where the community holds many different conflicting ethical standards. Certain conduct may be criminalized in one area but not in a different area. You may need to consult with a local attorney to determine how your jurisdiction defines public-order crimes.

Should I Contact a Lawyer?

Crimes against public order can result in strict legal consequences, even if there was no specific victim involved. If you have been involved in a crime against public order, it may be necessary for you to hire a criminal defense attorney. An experienced lawyer can assist you during trial and help determine if any defenses are available in your case. 

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Last Modified: 11-11-2014 11:22 AM PST

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