What is Offensive Language & Offensive Conduct?
Whether or not ‘swear words’ are offensive and could potentially lead to a criminal record and fine or community service order is really dependent on the circumstances in which the words are used.
It seems ridiculous that telling someone to ‘fuck off’ could see you end up in serious trouble. The ‘c’ word is generally considered more ‘offensive’, however there are a number of decided cases where common sense has prevailed such that even ‘that word’ might not be considered offensive or there is a reasonable excuse for its use at that time.
So how do we reconcile the fact that some people do not like to be sworn at, that police often swear yet exercise the power of arrest upon others that also swear (in fact it is part of the police culture), and that these words are regularly heard on television and in the movies, are printed in the popular press, can be heard being used by prominent sports men and women and even feature in ‘music’ lyrics?
Too many people have been prosecuted for this offence and pleaded guilty (or been advised to plead guilty!!!) without considering the law on the subject. Worse still, many of those people have ended up with a criminal conviction/criminal record. Madness.
See our Case Study material for examples of how these matters can be dealt with if handled by a specialist criminal lawyer. It does not mean that every prosecution can be defended – it does mean that every prosecution should be considered individually and advice given.