Public Order Offences
Public Order Offences is the terms used to cover a group of offences ranging from drunk and disorderly up to more serious offences such as riot.
If you are arrested or charged with an offence such as drunk and disorderly, affray or disorderly behaviour, you should ask for a Solicitor at the earliest opportunity. We recommend that you say nothing to the Police until you have spoken directly with us. Our 24 hour number is 07850 012 366.
Advice at a Police Station is always free of charge and will be paid for by Legal Aid. This does not depend on your financial circumstances.
Below is an outline of the offences included in the Public Order Offences Act 1986. (This list is not exhaustive as there are many more distinct offences outlined under this act.)
Disorderly conduct is defined as the use of threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour, or disorderly behaviour.
Disorderly behaviour does not require an element of violence, actual or threatened.
This offence is generally considered to be minor and therefore it can only be dealt with by the Magistrates Court. The maximum penalty for disorderly conduct is a fine but repeat offenders can face an Anti Social Behaviour Order (ASBO) which can have serious consequences if breached, including imprisonment.
If you have been charged with disorderly conduct, please contact us for more information.
Drunk & Disorderly
Drunk & disorderly is defined as someone being drunk in a public place and guilty of disorderly behaviour.
Drunk and disorderly is generally classified as a minor offence and therefore it can only be dealt with by the Magistrates Court with a maximum penalty of a fine.
If you have been charged with drunk and disorderly, please contact us for more information.
Affray is when someone uses or threatens unlawful violence towards another person and his conduct is such as would cause a person of reasonable firmness present at the scene to fear for his personal safety. The behaviour must be directed against an individual, not against property. Affray can be committed in a public or a private place, including your own home. There must however ‘be more than mere words’.
Affray is a serious allegation and it is an offence that can be dealt with in the Magistrates Court or the Crown Court, depending on the circumstances and seriousness, and it can result in a penalty of imprisonment.
If you have been charged with Affray, please contact us for more information.
Violent Disorder is when three or more people who are present together use or threaten unlawful violence and the conduct of them (taken together) would cause a person of reasonable firmness present at the scene to fear for their personal safety.
In these circumstances each of the persons using or threatening unlawful violence is guilty of violent disorder.
This offence may be in a public or private place, for example, in a bar or on the street.
Violent Disorder is a serious offence and it can be dealt with by the Magistrates Court or Crown Court, depending on the circumstances, and it can result in a penalty of imprisonment.
If you have been charged with Violent Disorder, please contact us for more information.
Riot is a distinct offence as it is defined as twelve or more people present together who used or threatened unlawful violence for a common purpose; and that the conduct of them was such as to cause a person of reasonable firmness present at the scene to fear for his personal safety.
Riot is the most serious of Public Order offences and therefore it can only be dealt with in the Crown Court.
The maximum penalty for Riot is ten years' imprisonment and/or a fine of an unlimited amount.
If you have been arrested or charged with Riot, please contact us for more information.