Breach of peace

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Violation of the peace is a crime against public order or public peace and is committed through violent riots or participation in them. Even the threat of acts of violence can constitute a criminal offense.

The peaceful gathering and the stay of other people in public places is made difficult or even impossible. Properties become unusable (in the long term) due to the occupation of aggressively acting groups. In general, breach of the peace is characterized by taking targeted measures that are suitable for systematically disrupting the public peace and hindering it in the long term. Belonging to an unpeaceful crowd alone does not constitute a criminal liability. Only those who take part in the acts of violence or threats as perpetrators or participants or who stir up an already existing crowd are punishable as a perpetrator.


The German Criminal Code in accordance with Section 125 and the Swiss Criminal Code in Art. 260 have in common that they are considered to be a breach of the peace if, from a crowd of people , acts of violence against people or property are committed in a way that endangers public security or takes part in a public gathering. Both codes require members of such crowds or gangs to be fined or imprisoned for up to three years.

In Germany, both threats to people with violence and the promotion of violence from outside are subject to the same punishment in this context.

In Switzerland there is no impunity for anyone who has neither called for the acts of violence nor committed them themselves and gives way to official instructions.

In Austria's penal code , instead of violating the peace, there is now severe collective violence for the rioting of a crowd or gathering of many people for the purpose of murder , manslaughter , bodily harm or serious damage to property by means of united forces, the success of which knowledgeable followers are rewarded with a prison sentence of up to two years. Accomplices and leaders face a prison sentence of up to three years.

In Germany, breach of the peace with looting, serious damage to property, serious health or life endangerment or weapons carried including dangerous tools is usually a particularly serious case according to Section 125a of the Criminal Code, which is imprisonment from six months to ten years.

Historical derivation

Originally, the land peace in the Middle Ages from the 11th century onwards was the temporally and spatially limited prohibition to conduct a feud . The king pronounced the peace in the country, which had to be sworn by the members of the imperial nobility. From the time of the Hohenstaufen , the sovereigns could also proclaim him. In the late Middle Ages , the peace in the land received a more and more extensive expansion through public law regulations that changed the character of the peace and its extensions to criminal law (see: Eternal peace in the land , God's peace ).

A breach of the peace was the breach of such a peace. A breach of the peace corresponded to a certain extent to disregarding the state's monopoly of force : the king, the sovereign, the government.

Closely related to this is the term of compulsory land in Austrian criminal law, which can be freely described as a threat to breach the peace .

An important contemporary document for the Grumbachian Handel , considered to be the last breach of the peace, is the thaler on the capture of Gotha , which propagated Elector August's successful execution of the Reich with text and images .

See also

Individual evidence

  1. Passivity is not violence
  2. a b Art. 260 breach of the peace. In: Swiss Criminal Code. Federal Council , accessed on October 2, 2016 .
  3. § 274, version dated December 31, 2015. In: Criminal Code. Federal Chancellery of Austria , accessed on October 2, 2016 .
  4. § 274, updated daily version. In: Criminal Code. Federal Chancellery of Austria, accessed on October 2, 2016 .