Criminal Law: Public Order Crimes


Public order crimes can be defined as the acts that obstruct society’s operations and the capability of people to carry out their tasks efficiently. They can also be defined as criminal behaviors that are against the expected values, customs, and societal norms. According to Robertson (1989), a crime is an act that breaches a law. However, there is a difference between political crime and public order crime. In the latter, the community suffers from the acts of criminals while in political crime, the victim is perceived to be the government or the state. Examples of public order crimes include prostitution and obscenity. This paper will give an in-depth analysis of some examples of public order crimes. These crimes include driving while intoxicated, crimes against the administration of government, prostitution, obscenity, and lewdness.

Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) Crimes

In many nations, it is illegal to drive under the influence of intoxicating drinks such as alcohol. Many sociologists classify DWI crimes as victimless because no one is affected physically as a result of the crime except the offenders. However, not all social scientists agree with this view; some point out that DWI may cause damage that engages in far more costly activities. They have classified DWI as deviant behavior that has to be enforced by law. This law has only been enforced systematically like three decades ago. Many people agree that driving under the influence of intoxicating drinks is dangerous but they fear to point at such drivers because drinking has become a social activity that frequently violates the norm. Recently, organized groups that are opposed to driving while drunk has decided to help people to change their public attitudes and the suctions against DWI have become stronger (Kendall, 2009).

One philosophical goal in the treatment of DWI would be the abolition of alcohol dependence because this problem has been perceived as the symptom of the abuse of alcohol. DWI offenders make the largest percentage of mandated referrals from the criminal justice system into the alcoholism treatment community. Apart from the arrest, most DWI offenders have never experienced detention and adjudication


Prostitution is a sexually related crime that is considered to be a threat to society because it disrupts the public order. This is the act of engaging in sexual activities for compensation. Prostitution is one of the oldest world’s professions since it has been there in ancient times. Every year, more than 80,000 prostitution offenders are arrested; the ratio of these arrests is 2:1 female to male. Out of the total number of arrests, 1.5% involve minors under the age of 18, and some even below the age of 15. Some sociologists argue that criminal law should not interfere with sexual transactions because no one is harmed (Mann, 1993). However, some scientists affirm that crimes like prostitution inflict damage that engages in far more serious and costly criminal activities.

Some nations abroad have legalized prostitution with the government regulating it. An example of such nations as Germany, which has a thriving legal sex trade. In others, it is perceived as an illegal act that is punishable by law with the death penalty. For example, China punishes those who promote child prostitution with death, and Iran puts to death people found promoting prostitution online.

Crimes against the Administration of Government

Crimes against the administration of Government consist of infamous crimes. These are crimes that are performed without good reports and people found committing such kinds of crimes to have no right of defending themselves. Offenders of such crimes are considered to be traitors and liars who can never be obedient to society. In the United States, treason is considered to be the leading infamous crime one could ever commit and it is clearly stated in the constitution. Breaches of allegiance are also considered as crimes against the justice system which are the most provoked and serious offenses. The purpose of criminal law is to defend the political process and protect the innocent.

Crimes against the administration of government hinder and corrupt the proper functioning of the judicial systems (Anon. 2010). These crimes include subornation, bribery, tax evasion, and false swearing. Most of the crimes against the government are general intent crimes except treason. The offenders commit them with a clear conscience that, they are committing a crime and hence should face full jurisdiction.


The definition of obscenity differs between communities and from culture to culture. Many cultures all over the world have produced laws that define obscenity and the jurisdiction that follows if prosecuted. Obscene materials include pornography. This includes books, magazines, and films that show sexual acts. If pornography is considered to be obscene, then it becomes a crime. This is because such materials are not only offensive but also a violation of the values of morality in society.

No one is indeed harmed by such materials but the influence they have on society is immense. For example, if minors are exposed to such kinds of materials, their body is affected and as a result, they may engage in sexual acts leading to prostitution (Mann, 1993).

The criminal law prohibits the creation and retailing of obscene materials. However, law enforcers are faced with the problem of determining what constitutes obscenity and what does not. There is no clear definition of obscenity and the determination is left in the hands of the law enforcers. There is one type of pornography that is considered to be a felony offense, which is child pornography. This involves the sexual exploitation of children under the age of 18 by adults. Any attempt made the law enforcement agents cut short the sale of obscene material often leads to increased prices creating high profits for the business. This is because customers who are determined to get the materials will look for ways of obtaining them at whatever cost. On the other hand, retailers who are used to the business and are being observed by law enforcement turn to trade their materials online.


Lewdness is a public order crime that can be grouped under public indecency. It can be defined as the deliberate exposure of private parts such as breasts, genitals, and buttocks in public. It can also be defined as an attempt to engage in sexual acts in public or in places where one can be observed. In places where sexual acts have been a problem, one does not need to expose his/her private parts or engage in a sexual act for it to be considered as public lewdness (West Publishing CO. & St. Paul, 2001).

The first offenders of the crime undergo periods of counseling and probation which may not be available to subsequent offenses. These offenses may attract an imprisonment of up to one year. Other penalties include fines and registration as a sex lawbreaker.


Public order crimes are crimes that, if committed, affect society’s operations. They can be considered victimless crimes because no one is harmed in the process. Public order crimes are punishable by law and the offenders may face a death sentence or be imprisoned. They include prostitution, obscenity, and lewdness among others.

Reference List

Anon. (2010). Public Order Crimes – Pornography. Web.

Kendall, D. (2009). Sociology in Our Times: The Essentials. New York: Cengage Learning.

Mann, C. R. (1993). Unequal justice: a question of color Blacks in the Diaspora. Indiana: Indiana University Press.

Robertson, I. (1989) Society: A Brief Introduction. New York: Worth Publishing.

West Publishing CO. & St. Paul (2001). Decennial digest, American digest system, Part 1, Volume 42. West Pub. Co.

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