PUBLIC ORDER OFFENCES AND CRIMES
The principal legislation on public order offences is the Public Order Act 1986. This is a particularly controversial criminal offence and one which we fight against vehemently where our clients are charged with an alleged crime where no one or any property was harmed or destroyed. The line between what does or does not constitute a public order offence has grown slimmer and slimmer over the years as more power has been repeatedly vested in the police force to target and reduce crime rate at all cost. The good news, as we like to tell our clients, is that fundamental human rights must be upheld and where the freedom of speech, association and/or assembly is threatened, as it almost always is under public order allegations, we will vigorously challenge the prosecution.
Owing to the significant increase in the number of public order cases, our London crime defence solicitors have come to the conclusion that although more needs to be done to combat crime, escalating the conviction rate with public order charges is not the right way. In most of the cases involving some of our clients under public order offence, our specialist criminal defence lawyers have registered their astonishment with regards to just how high the number of people being charged with public order offences has risen in recent times.
Two instances stand out in particular; the student protest against the hike in University fees in London and the recent London riots which spread to other parts of the country. Although there were people who did truly destroy properties and acted violently or at least threatened public order, a great number of the people who were arrested and some of who were subsequently charged with criminal damage and vandalism or public order offences were people who had done nothing more than be at the scene of the incidents. Where does the law draw the line? The pertinent question is this: is it a crime to be present at what is supposedly a crime scene without being involved in any criminal activity going on whatsoever? Quite naturally and as our solicitors always point out, no case is the same as another and the facts or surrounding circumstances will always determine the direction in which a case goes.
At London’s most prominent criminal defence law networks, our lawyers are particularly meticulous when it comes to allegations of breach of the peace or public order offence. Our approach is very robust and especially proactive. We are very vigorous in our defence, especially where we have cause to believe that our client was not involved in any action or activity that could possibly be construed as disturbing the peace. Being present at a football match where a fight or disturbance breaks out, turning out to witness a demonstration as was the case with the school fees protest in London or indeed witnessing a riot against what some believe to be an injustice in society does not in any manner constitute a public order offence.
Even where it can be established that our client assisted in organising the demonstration or riot, this does not automatically prove that they intended to disturb public order or indeed for others to damage and destroy property. It would therefore be inequitable for the unruly and/or reckless actions of others in the same group or otherwise to be blamed on innocent people. Questions about the rights and liberties of our clients are usually put to the prosecution at this point. In most cases, unless where the public is at risk, the observance of fundamental human rights prevails where there is any contradiction. Our solicitors will put their wealth of knowledge of the law to excellent use in preparing your case and vigorously defending the same.
Experts at Defending Public Order Offences
London’s most prominent criminal defence law networks also understand that peer pressure and the persuasion of the crowd may prove too much to resist in certain situations and that as such, some of the people who come to us for advice and representation may have been actively involved in any disturbance and damage to property that may have ensued. In such cases, we would first and foremost seek to establish our client’s alleged level of involvement and responsibility. Due consideration will be given to such a fact at sentencing. If there are other extenuating circumstances that may potentially assist the case and can be presented to the court for leniency, you can be rest assured that our lawyers will find it and will build your case around these factors.
We have successfully defended clients who were charged with drunk and disorderly offence, Disorderly Act under Sec 5 of the Public Order Act 1986 as well as Threatening Behaviour under Sec 4, to mention just a few. The different offences under public order include affray under Sec 3 of the Public Order Act, riot; involving 12 or more people under Sec 1, violent disorder or conduct under Sec 2 and the use of foul, abusive and/or threatening language in a manner which is likely to cause the fear of violence or to cause outright violence.
Our experience in all of these areas is extensive. Our solicitors are very thorough in their work and this has paid off on numerous occasions. We have, as a result of our proactive approach to criminal defence, been able to successfully challenge prosecution evidence. In quite a number of cases, this led to the charges against our clients being dropped and the cases dismissed.
As experts in criminal defence and with several years experience of defending clients from different walks or life in general and serious criminal matters, we are confident that we will accord you the best legal representation possible. In our experience, we have been involved in matters where the client was more or less bullied into joining the crowd. While this is not necessarily a legal defence, it may nevertheless serves as a mitigating factor when it comes to the sentencing. Our primary aim always, where possible, is to ensure that our clients are not remanded to prison. So, whatever the circumstances are, simply give us a call today and every other thing about your case will fall into place!