Public Order Offences

AFG LAW’s criminal law experts have experience of defending those who are facing criminal charges for public order offences. The following list contains common criminal offences which are covered under the Public Order Act 1986: riot (section 1); violent disorder (section 2); affray (section 3); using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour causing fear of or provoking violence (section 4); using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour, or disorderly behaviour intending to and causing harassment, alarm or distress (section 4A); using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour, or disorderly behaviour likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress (section 5); drunk and disorderly behaviour (section 91 - Criminal Justice Act 1967).

Solicitors who can advise on public order offences

What constitutes the offence of riot under the act?
Twelve or more persons who together use, or threaten, unlawful violence for a common purpose. Their conduct (when taken together) is such that it would cause a reasonably firm person to fear for their personal safety. No reasonably firm person actually needs to be present at the scene. Riot may be committed in private as well as in public places. The offence can carry a prison term of up to ten years or a fine - or both.
 
What constitutes the offence of violent disorder under the act?
The offence of violent disorder occurs where three or more people together use, or threaten, unlawful violence. Their conduct (when taken together) is such that it would cause a reasonably firm person to fear for their personal safety. No reasonably firm person actually needs to be present at the scene.
Violent disorder may be committed in private as well as in public places. The offence can carry a prison term of up to five years or a fine - or both. Or on summary conviction they can be to imprisoned for up to six months or a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum - or both.
 
What constitutes the offence of affray under the act?
An individual can be charged with the offence of affray if they use, or threaten, unlawful violence towards another. Their conduct is such as would cause a reasonably firm person to fear for their personal safety. No reasonably firm person actually needs to be present at the scene. For the offence of affray a threat cannot be verbal alone. Affray may be committed in private as well as in public places.
 
A constable may arrest without a warrant anyone he suspects is committing affray. A person guilty of affray can be imprisoned up to three years or fined - or both. On summary conviction they may be imprisoned for up to 6 months or fined - or both.
 
What conduct constitutes offences against Sections 5, 4A and 4 of the Public Order Act (POA) and also Section 91 of the Criminal Justice Act (CJA)?
There is an overlap in the conduct required to be charged with any of these offences of disorderly behaviour.
 
What is the offence of Drunk and Disorderly contrary to Section 91 of CJA 1967?
  • disorderly behaviour
  • in any public place
  • whilst drunk (or under the influence of a controlled substance)
What conduct will constitute committing an offence under Section 5 of the POA?
  • threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour - or disorderly behaviour
  • in a public or private place (but not a house)
  • with either the intent or awareness that the behaviour may be disorderly
  • or with either the intent or awareness that such behaviour may be threatening, abusive or insulting
  • within the hearing or sight of a person likely to be caused harassment, alarm or distress
What conduct will constitute committing an offence under Section 4A of the POA?
  • threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour - or disorderly behaviour
  • in a public or private place (but not a house)
  • with the intent to cause, and thereby causing
  • harassment, alarm or distress
What conduct will constitute committing an offence under Section 4 of the POA?
  • threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour towards another person
  • in a public or private place (but not a house)
  • either:
    • with the intent to cause that person to believe that immediate unlawful violence will be used against him, or another, by any person
    • with the intent to provoke the immediate use of unlawful violence by that person or another:
      • whereby that person is likely to believe that such violence will be used
      • it is likely that such violence will be provoked
How can AFG LAW help me if I am charged with a public order offence?
AFG LAW have a team of experienced criminal law experts who can help you if you have been accused of committing a public order offence. Criminal law can sometimes be complex and difficult to fully understand - we can help you make sense of the charges against you, evaluate the evidence and advise how to proceed.
 
We can help you prepare your defence, represent you at trial and even help you with your appeal if it should be necessary. Should you be convicted, we can identify any appropriate mitigating factors or circumstances which may help to reduce your sentence or penalty.
 
Our criminal law solicitors can help you with your case and provide expert legal advice and representation throughout. If you’d like more information on public order offences please email info@afglaw.co.uk or ring 01204 377 600 - we’ll explain how AFG LAW’s criminal law specialists can help.

Public Order Offences Law Practitioner


read more

Have a Question?

Have a Question?

We'll call you back

Keep Up-To-Date

Keep Up-To-Date

Join our mailing list

Get in touch

Get in touch

Send us an enquiry