breach of the peace

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Breach of the Peace

A comprehensive term encompassing acts or conduct that seriously endanger or disturb public peace and order.

A breach of the peace was a common-law offense, but is presently governed by statute in many states. It is frequently defined as constituting a form of Disorderly Conduct. Examples include using abusive or obscene language in a public place, resisting a lawful arrest, and trespassing or damaging property when accompanied by violence.

Statutes commonly require that conduct constituting a breach of the peace must be clearly a type of misbehavior resulting in public unrest or disturbance. As an example, a prostitute who solicited men walking by on a public street from her window was found guilty of breaching the peace, but a man who raised his voice to a police officer while the officer was issuing a ticket to him was not guilty of the same offense.

A breach of the peace is synonymous with a disturbance of the peace. Jurisdictions that do not have a specific statutory provision for the offense may punish it as a form of disorderly conduct. The usual penalty imposed is either a fine, imprisonment, or both.

West's Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

breach of the peace

n. any act which disturbs the public or even one person. It can include almost any criminal act causing fear or attempting intimidation, such as displaying a pistol or shouting inappropriately. (See: breach)

Copyright © 1981-2005 by Gerald N. Hill and Kathleen T. Hill. All Right reserved.

breach of the peace

the crime of behaving in a disorderly fashion causing harm or likely to cause harm or generally disturbing the peace. Its wide ambit can raise human rights points.
Collins Dictionary of Law © W.J. Stewart, 2006

BREACH OF THE PEACE. A violation of public order; the offence of disturbing the public peace. One guilty of this offence may be held to bail for his good behaviour. An act of public indecorum is also a breach of the peace. The remedy for this offence is by indictment. Vide Pace,

A Law Dictionary, Adapted to the Constitution and Laws of the United States. By John Bouvier. Published 1856.