Affray is a serious offence that may result in imprisonment. If you have been charged with affray, then it is imperative that you contact George Sten & Co Criminal Lawyers for their specialised legal advice. With over 50 years experience in this area of law, our criminal lawyers will be able to assist you in building your case and gaining the best possible result.
What is an affray charge?
Section 93C of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) criminalises affray. The offence of affray involves a person using or threatening to use violence towards another person and conducting him or herself in a manner that would cause another person of reasonable firmness to fear for their personal safety.
What makes this offence fundamentally different from assault is the fact that it is the other person of ‘reasonable firmness’ who must fear for their safety. Essentially, the person of reasonable firmness is an innocent bystander at the scene of an event who, as a result of the event, fears for their personal safety.
It is important to note that while the offence of affray does include threats of unlawful violence, these threats cannot be made of words alone. They must be accompanied by action. If more than one person is involved in committing the offence, then the conduct of all parties together will be considered. Furthermore, the offence can be committed in public or in private.
Let’s consider a hypothetical example.
Two men, Mr A and Mr B are friends who are involved in an altercation against one other person, Mr C. Mr D is walking past as this event unfolds. Mr A is standing a few metres away from Mr C and yells out, ‘I am going to bash your head into the ground.’ Mr B is running toward Mr C with his fists clenched. Meanwhile, Mr D is standing close by and hearing the yelling and seeing Mr B run in his direction. Mr A would not be found guilty of the offence of affray, as threats have to be made up of more than words alone. However, the courts would take into consideration the action of both Mr A and Mr B together and would likely find that the offence of affray has been committed.
Examples of affray offences
Examples of the types of conduct that would constitute affray include:
- The throwing of an object towards a group of people in a situation where the object may cause serious harm;
- A physical fight between 2 or more people at a nightclub;
- The threatening of a person with a weapon such as a knife or gun.
What court will hear my case?
Affray is a Table 1 offence. This means that ordinarily, the matter will be heard in the Local Court, however, the defendant or prosecution (the Police) can choose to have the matter escalated to the District Court.
In New South Wales, the maximum penalty for affray is 10 years imprisonment. With such a harsh maximum penalty, it is important that you have the best legal advice and defence possible. For legal advice and guidance that will give you peace of mind, contact George Sten and Co Criminal Lawyers now on (02) 9261 8640 or email us. If your matter is urgent, feel free to contact our 24 hour phone line, 0412 423 569.
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