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An affray charge is a serious offence, carrying a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment. Furthermore, even if you do avoid a prison sentence, there’s still a chance that you will record a criminal conviction if found guilty on an affray charge. This means you will have a criminal record that will severely limit your opportunities, particularly when looking for employment or travelling. 

For this reason, if you have been charged with affray, you must seek help from an experienced lawyer who knows the ins and outs of criminal law. LY Lawyers can offer you an expert legal team that will fight for the best possible outcome, whether it be avoiding jail or a criminal conviction.

To help you understand an affray charge, we have provided a full breakdown of the criminal offence, including information on possible defences to help you get off on your case.

Affray Meaning

Affray is charged in circumstances where one or more persons behaves in a manner that would cause another present person of reasonable firmness to fear for their safety. 

The literal meaning of Affray is ‘to frighten’ and dates back to early British common law, which considers the offence as a violation of the public order to protect the peace. 

The violence offence can be committed in private locations such as a residence or in public contexts. All someone needs to do is to threaten or commit some form of violence against another person in a way that makes others fear for their personal safety. 

Affray Crimes Act

Affray is charged under Section 93C of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW), which identifies the offence as: 

  • A person who uses or threatens unlawful violence towards another and whose conduct is such as would cause a person of reasonable firmness present at the scene to fear for his or her personal safety is guilty of affray and liable to imprisonment for 10 years.
  • If 2 or more persons use or threaten unlawful violence, it is the conduct of them taken together that must be considered for the purposes of subsection (1).
  • For the purposes of this section, a threat cannot be made by the use of words alone.
  • No person of reasonable firmness need actually be, or be likely to be, present at the scene.
  • Affray may be committed in private as well as in public places.


Types of Affray Offences

Therefore assessing the NSW Crimes Act 1900, affray charges can include any offence that involves:

  • Fighting in either private or public spaces which causes other people to fear for their safety.
  • Threatening to assault a reasonable person.
  • Partaking in disorderly public behaviour (e.g. riots or brawls) that intimidate others. 
  • Yelling at other persons in road rage situations in such a way that makes them fear his or her safety. 

Affray vs Assault

While similar to common assault, affray is considered a less severe offence within criminal law. 

Commonly, we have found that the prosecution will use affray charges when they cannot prove an assault took place. This is because, unlike assault, you don’t need to commit unlawful violence to be charged with affray. Instead, the prosecution only needs to prove that other public members at the time felt unsafe as a result of the defendant’s actions. 

Your Options in Court

When facing affray charges in court, there are two options you can take:

  1. Pleading not guilty: In this circumstance, you will need to defend your case against the prosecution.
  2. Pleading guilty: In this circumstance, you agree with the charges and take full responsibility for your actions. 

It is critical to have a good lawyer representing you in court no matter your decision. This is because a lawyer can provide professional advice and expert representation that may help either dismiss the case or limit the severity of the sentencing. 

Plead Not Guilty to Affray Charge

To be convicted of this offence, the police must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that:

  1. You used or threatened unlawful violence towards another person;
  2. Your conduct would cause a person of reasonable firmness present at the scene to fear for their safety.

If any of the above elements cannot be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, then you will be found not guilty of the offence.

Suppose the above elements can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. In that case, you will still be found not guilty if any of the following defences can be established:

Our experienced criminal lawyers will advise you of your possible defences before going to court. Our expertise and level of detail as a law firm will provide you with the best defence, fighting to have you found not guilty on your affray charge.

Plead Guilty to Affray Charge

Alternatively, if you agree with what the police are alleging, you may consider pleading guilty. This option often will entitle you to a discount on your sentencing, as a guilty plea demonstrates your remorse and contrition for your actions. 

Unlike other law firms, LY Lawyers are skilled in dealing with the prosecution. In particular circumstances, it may be the case that one of our experienced solicitors can negotiate with prosecutors for you to plead guilty on a less severe charge.

Affray Sentencing Guidelines

Affray is an offence that may be dealt with pursuant to section 10 of the Crimes (Sentence Procedure) Act. This means that no conviction will be recorded, there is no other penalty, and you will consequently have no criminal record. 

Generally, other penalties that a court can impose on a person guilty of any criminal offence in NSW are:

The severity of the imposed penalties will depend on several factors such as the seriousness of the affray charge, if it is your first offence and the level of court hearing the case.

Local Court

If your matter is dealt with by the Local Court, sentencing can include:

  • A maximum penalty of 2 years imprisonment.

District Court

While rare, your case may be heard by the District Court. In this circumstance, sentencing can include:

  • A maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment.

A key difference between the two courts is that the District Court is heard by both a Judge and a jury panel (consisting of 12 members). If you’re unsure which court will hear your case, refer to your court attendance notice

Why Choose LY Lawyers for Your Affray Charge

LY Lawyers are highly experienced in getting people off on their affray charges. Our proven track record will give you the confidence you need for achieving a positive outcome on your case. 

We offer 24/7 services via our national legal hotline, which can be contacted at 1300 595 299. LY Lawyers also provides free initial consultations for all criminal offence cases, providing you with an overview of your options and possible outcomes. 

If you have been charged with an affray case, don’t jeopardise your future and contact us today to achieve the best outcome.

Case Studies

After an online video of a fight in Pyrmont went viral, our client was charged with the assaults of a number of young girls on Mardi Gras night.

Our client’s co-accused had applied for bail at Central Local Court on 9 March 2021. Mr. Adam Ly, our Principal, appeared for our client at court that same day, seeking an adjournment of the proceedings to 23 March 2021 to allow us time to properly prepare a bail application.

After the meticulous preparation of the case, Mr. Ly appeared on 23 March 2021 at Central Local Court to apply for bail before Magistrate Sheils. It was a difficult application, the shocking video of the alleged assaults being played repeatedly.

Magistrate Sheils, being convinced with Mr. Ly’s submissions, determined that bail should be granted on strict conditions.

An amazing result for our client.

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Our client was charged with affray after a late night fight he was involved in outside a nightclub in Sydney City.The whole incident was captured on CCTV that was provided to the us by the police as part of the brief of evidence.

Our client insisted that he only got involved in the fight after fearing for his friend’s safety. After analysing the case thoroughly, stringently viewing every view of the CCTV footage, obtaining statements from our client’s friends, we took the case to a defended hearing at the Downing Centre Local Court in February 2011.

Our argument was that our client’s actions were lawful, in that he acted the way he did only in self defence of his friend.

After a long hearing, our client gave evidence. Ultimately Magistrate Favretto agreed that the charge should be dismissed.

Our client appeared unrepresented without a lawyer at Waverley Court and was convicted of affray following a fight with another patron at a pub. At the time he committed the assault he was on a good behaviour bond for a similar offence.

The Magistrate ordered he complete 150 hours of community service for the Affray and re-sentenced him for the breach of the bond, by imposing another good behaviour bond for a further two years.

Within 4 months the client breached the Community Service Order and sought the advice of LY Lawyers when another solicitor told him he would likely receive a term of imprisonment.

LY Lawyers appeared on his behalf and argued that the breach of the Community Service Order did not mean the court had to impose a penalty harsher.

Our solicitor provided a context to the Affray that the client had failed to do when he appeared for himself.

The Magistrate accepted that the conduct of the client was not objectively serious enough to warrant a sentence of imprisonment, suspended or otherwise, and in the circumstances the matter could appropriately be dealt with by way of a Section 9 Good Behaviour bond.

This meant, despite breaching the Community Service Order, he received a lighter sentence than when he had represented himself.

Our client was charged affray. CCTV footage captured the incident which involved a 10 person brawl at a racecourse. Our client was previously charged with a similar type of affray three years earlier and was placed on a suspended sentence on that occasion. The footage clearly showed our client violently participating in the affray.

Our solicitors successfully negotiated the police facts to reduce our client’s criminality. Further on our advice our client sought the assistance of a counsellor and participated in anger management course.

The matter proceeded to sentence at Waverley Local Court. Our solicitor argued that our client only became involved after once of his friends was assaulted. Further the court accepted our client had good prospects of rehabilitation and showed significant remorse. The court ordered that our client perform 100 hours community service.

Our client was self-represented in the Local Court and pleaded guilty to affray without properly instructing a lawyer.

On the day which his case was listed for sentence Chief Magistrate Henson told our client that he would without any doubt be going to jail and he should get a lawyer quickly.

Our client had lost his job as a result of the criminal proceedings and was now facing prison.

The charges were very serious and included a fight where our client kneed the victim 3 times in the head whilst he was on the floor, splitting the victim’s head open.

Our solicitor prepared our client for sentencing and ensured that the case was expertly prepared, presented and argued.

Our client was sentenced before Her Honour Magistrate Gilmore at the Downing Centre Local Court in April 2015. Her Honour took into account the fact that he had previously been convicted of violent offences but that he was someone who was very remorseful and capable of changing his ways for the better.

He was sentenced to 100 hours of community service. This was an excellent result for our client.

He was very relieved that he was not going to jail.