Charged with Affray?
Adam Law Solicitors offer expert legal advice for anyone facing, or worried about facing, prosecution for Affray. We have a dedicated criminal defence team who have many years experience of all charges of criminal activity.
If you are concerned you may be facing charges for affray, or are already facing charges, it is essential you contact us as quickly as possible. Phone us now on 0114 256 0111, or email us or use the form on this page.
What is Affray?
Under section 3 Public Order Act 1986 a person is guilty of affray if he uses or threatens unlawful violence towards another and his conduct is such as would cause a person of reasonable firmness present at the scene to fear for his personal safety. Where two or more persons use or threaten the unlawful violence, it is the conduct of them taken together that must be considered. 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.
What are the penalties for Affray?
The maximum penalty on conviction on indictment is 3 years’ imprisonment and/or a fine of unlimited amount. On summary conviction the maximum penalty is 6 months’ imprisonment and/or a fine not exceeding level 5.
What level of proof is required to convict for Affray?
Under section 3 of the Public Order Act 1986 it must be proved that a person has used or threatened:
- unlawful violence;
- towards another;
- and his conduct is such as would cause;
- a person of reasonable firmness;
- present at the scene;
- to fear for his personal safety.
The hypothetical bystander, rather than the victim, must be put in fear for his or her personal safety. Apart from the hypothetical bystander, there must be present a ‘victim’ against whom the violence is to be directed.
It is not enough for the prosecution to prove that unlawful violence has been used. There has to be violence of such a kind that a bystander would fear for his safety. Where the violence is focused solely and exclusively on the victim, such that it would be incapable of causing a person of reasonable firmness present at the scene to fear for his safety, then the offence is not made out.
What kind of behaviour could be convicted for affray?
Examples of the type of conduct appropriate for a section 3 offence include:
- A fight between two or more people in a place where members of the general public are present (for example in a public house, discotheque,restaurant or street) with a level of violence such as would put them in substantial fear (as opposed to passing concern) for their safety (even though the fighting is not directed towards them);
- Indiscriminate throwing of objects directed towards a group of people in circumstances where serious injury is or is likely to be caused;
- The wielding of a weapon of a type or in a manner likely to cause people substantial fear for their safety or a person armed with a weapon who, when approached by police officers, brandishes the weapon and threatens to use it against them;
The accused must have intended to use or threaten violence; or have been aware that his conduct may be violent or may threaten violence.
This article is based on public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v2.0. The original information can be found here; https://www.cps.gov.uk/legal-guidance/public-order-offences-incorporating-charging-standard