What is meant by Breach of the Peace?

Breach of the peace refers to disorderly conduct that is likely to cause fear, disturbance and alarm to ordinary people.

Breach of the peace is a common law offence in Scotland and can be prosecuted directly, which is not the case in the rest of the UK. While breach of the peace is generally thought to be loud, riotous behaviour, it can also refer to disruptive, but peaceful, acts like streaking.

Nowadays, instead of breach of the peace, most people are prosecuted under section 38 of the Criminal Justice Licensing (Scotland) Act 2010, which deals with threatening or abusive behaviour.


Been Charged With Breach of the Peace? We Can Help.

Breach of the peace covers a wide variety of criminal behaviours and a successful conviction can theoretically result in anything from a small fine to a lifetime in prison, if the case is referred to the High Court. (The latter is incredibly rare and realistically would only be applicable to offenders who have broken the conditions of their licence, while already serving a life sentence.)

The severity of the sentence will largely depend on which court handles the case. Summary convictions in the Sheriff Court can result in a maximum of a year’s imprisonment and/or a maximum fine of £5000, while a Justice of the Peace Court can only mete out a maximum of two months’ imprisonment and/or a fine of £2,500. Related indictments under section 38, meanwhile, can result in a maximum of 5 years’ imprisonment.

Regardless, a breach of the peace charge could result in a permanent criminal record. Even if the offence and subsequent sentence is negligible, it could disqualify you for certain jobs and restrict your ability to travel. In the past our expert solicitors have managed to talk down seemingly unwinnable cases to absolute discharges, whether by poking holes in the procurator fiscal’s case, criticising the police’s methodology, arguing self-defence, demonstrating mitigating circumstances, or all of the above.


If you have been charged with breach of the peace, or offences under section 38 of the Criminal Justice Licensing (Scotland) Act, contact Emergency Lawyers. Phone us on the number below, or message us via the adjacent form.

Call 0141 226 8825 or Enquire Online