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What Does Public Nuisance Mean?

A public nuisance is defined as an activity or condition that is offensive to someone’s senses or can interfere with someone’s quality of life. This is quite a broad definition, so it is down to the courts to decide whether a criminal nuisance charge is to be upheld. It could be anything that impacts your senses, such as loud noise or even offensive smells.

The laws on public nuisance are similar in most states, so deciding on public nuisance in California or elsewhere in the USA. 

What is a Criminal Nuisance?

When deciding on the law of nuisance and a specific private nuisance claim, courts will consider the area’s population, what land might have been used for, how long the nuisance has been going on, and whether it can reasonably be presented.

If an ongoing nuisance is being caused, the state chooses to file criminal charges if somebody is maintaining a public problem. If someone is causing a nuisance in California, then they will only face a public criminal nuisance charge brought about by the state. Not by an individual.

A public nuisance is sometimes confused with disturbing the peace, but claims for the latter typically come from people being in danger or reasonable fear of danger. Nuisance can be noise pollution or consistent unpleasant smells from a garbage dump. These are examples that don’t cause immediate danger.

What does Public Nuisance Mean?

What Are The Differences Between Public and Private Nuisance?

There are some key differences between public and private nuisance claims. In a public claim, the offense is deemed to be against the general public rather than privately.

Individuals can bring about private nuisance lawsuits. The claims come from people experiencing any sort of disturbance that could be deemed to impact the enjoyment of their own private property. For example, a neighbor loudly playing music might bring about a lawsuit. 

A criminal defense attorney may argue against the charges by claiming that the music is inoffensive or that it was a one-off situation. It can be difficult to get the claims upheld.

What Relief Is Available against a Public Nuisance?

The law of nuisance can be complex, and there are many forms of relief after a claim. An injunction or abatement could be used to order the defendant to stop the nuisance they are causing. There could also be a fine or even a sentence imposed against the defendant.

Criminal charges can come about as a result of public nuisance, but this is often used in extreme cases or when there is damage or the threat of damage to property. There also needs to be proof of the hardship that has been caused.

This is different from a private case, where an individual may seek damages as part of the reparations.

public nuisance

What is the Statute of Limitations (SOL) for a Public Nuisance Claim?

The statute can vary greatly depending on which state you are in. Public nuisance in California may be defined differently from New York, for example. A statute of limitations can depend on whether the nuisance is permanent or not.

Statutes can provide three-year limitations for permanent nuisances. The time is measured from when the nuisance occurs. Some states allow legal action to be taken for up to six years from the original nuisance, especially if it is continuous or recurring.

If you are looking to bring about a private nuisance lawsuit, then you should check whether you can bring about a criminal nuisance charge in your state. It is crucial to seek counsel from a lawyer. It is also vital that you collect as much evidence as possible. According to the statute, there usually is a time limit, so you can’t always wait to take action.

Do I Need a Lawyer for Help with a Private Nuisance Lawsuit?

While it is possible to make public nuisance complaints, a public nuisance lawsuit is likely to be out of your hands. However, if someone is causing a nuisance to your personal property and disturbing your quality of life, you may have the right to make a private nuisance claim.

This allows you to claim for an injunction or even seek other reparations such as compensation.

Shaheen Manshoory
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