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 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:
- Pleading not guilty: In this circumstance, you will need to defend your case against the prosecution.
- 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:
- You used or threatened unlawful violence towards another person;
- 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:
- Section 9 – Good behaviour bond
- Community service order
- Section 12 – Suspended sentence
- Intensive correction order
- Home detention
- Prison sentence
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.
If your matter is dealt with by the Local Court, sentencing can include:
- A maximum penalty of 2 years imprisonment.
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.