Public safety crimes, or “crimes against the public”, are crimes which affect the general public rather than a specific person. Public safety crimes can range in severity from simple citations (such as public drunkenness) to more serious misdemeanor crimes like those involving weapons.
Crimes against the public can accomplish two general aims. First, they usually seek to prevent persons from engaging in conduct that is deemed dangerous to the local community. Examples of these laws are anti-fireworks laws or anti-firearm regulations. Secondly, crimes against the public can actually protect certain sectors of the public, such as teen curfews. Laws involving public safety crimes can vary widely by region.
Some examples of public safety crimes can include:
- Laws involving minors (such as underage drinking, juvenile curfew laws, etc.)
- Disorderly conduct
- Disturbing the peace, breach of the peace, and other related violations
- Prohibitions on weapons and firearms, especially handguns
- Loitering and vagrancy laws (especially gang loitering ordinances)
- Fireworks prohibitions
- Laws involving environmental concerns, such as hazardous waste disposal and toxic materials
- Various alcohol crimes and public drunkenness
- Terrorism and false reports of terrorism
Again, these types of public safety crimes may be different from neighborhood to neighborhood. A lot of the times, conduct that’s illegal in one area may be allowed in a different area (for example, business vs. residential zones). This is common for public safety laws involving the consumption of alcohol.
Penalties for crimes against public safety will depend on the nature and severity of the crime. Generally speaking, public safety crimes are usually misdemeanors, which are punishable by a criminal fine and/or a jail sentences.
In some cases, less severe violations may result in only a citation or a traffic ticket, payable by a small fine. However, even such minor violations can result in misdemeanor after several repeat offenses. Likewise, simple misdemeanor charges can turn into felony charges with repeat offenses.
Public safety crimes are different from other crimes because they involve the general public, and not just one particular victim. As such, they can often be punished quite severely. If you need legal representation for public safety crime charges, you should hire a criminal defense lawyer immediately. A lawyer can provide you with expert advice and can help defend you in a court of law.