In a short essay provide a detailed overview of the lesson content pertaining to public order crimes.


Public Order Crimes

“Who is the victim of an illegal drug transaction? Who is likely to call the police when a prostitute makes a transaction with a client or when a homeless person is sleeping in a public park? Such acts are considered crimes not because there is a discernable offender and victim, but because the larger community, or at least a vocal and powerful segment of it, is offended and therefore victimized by such acts.” – Timbre Wulf-Ludden and Robert Meier

Public order crimes are commonly referenced as victimless crimes in terms that the focus is not to harm or endanger an innocent party, but the commission of acts that society as a whole deems immoral or inappropriate. Current examples of public order crimes in the United States span from public intoxication to drug abuse, disorderly behavior, gambling activities, vagrancy, and sexual activities, such as prostitution. Additional offences include violating traffic laws, hunting or fishing without a license, and tax related actions.

As is clear from the listings, some of these crimes appear fairly innocent and the question typically asked is, “Why is this illegal? I’m not hurting anyone or forcing anyone to do anything against their will!” However, as history has shown, many of these activities do cause what could be termed collateral damage.

Collateral damage is the injuring of innocent, uninvolved others, by the actions of others. For example, becoming drunk could lead to driving and causing an accident and injuring or killing others. Illegal gambling could lead to addiction, which addiction always hurts loved ones. Additionally, gambling or drug addictions commonly lead to the need for more money, which leads to more serious crimes of theft and burglary. Prostitution leads to the increase of sexually transmitted diseases.

Even the most innocuous public order crime, such as disorderly behavior, can cause embarrassment of those known to the offender as well as disrupt others’ right to enjoy an activity.

The social policy regarding public order crime is based upon social morals and beliefs as to what is deemed appropriate as well as concern that certain behaviors have been repeatedly shown to lead to more serious crimes. The concept of identifying certain activities as a crime is based upon the desire to communicate to the whole of society that someone cares.

Places where people care encourages lawful behavior; buildings that are not cared for frequently lead to an increase in crime. However, the bottom line issue regarding public order crime is who’s responsible for discouraging the enactment of public order crimes. Who is responsible for cleaning up deteriorated housing and or communicating that certain actions are unacceptable? Additionally, who technically has the right to stipulate that certain actions are not acceptable?

A brief look at history shows that while some actions were always considered inappropriate, if not criminal in the past, there are others that are now deemed acceptable by the majority of society. For example, prostitution has always been viewed as inappropriate behavior, but recently, the smoking of cannabis (marijuana) has been declared legal provided it is done for medical reasons.

So, unlike other crimes, public order crimes are based on society – the beliefs, morals, and tolerance. However, some of the public order crimes are not just based on what American society’s perspective, but the views of the global community.

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