AFFRAY - Common Law Offence

Elements Prosecution Must Prove

1. Fighting by one or more persons; or a display of force by one or more persons without actual force.
2. In such a manner that a bystander of reasonable firmness might reasonably expect to be terrified.

When are affray charges appropriate?

We note that charges apply where the above elements of affray as described in Attorney-General’s Reference (No. 3 of 1983) [1985] QB 24 are satisfied. Classically, such charges are laid following fights in nightclubs and other public areas. However fights in private areas can also be subject to affray charges. The degree of violence involved must be enough to be calculated to terrify a person of reasonably firm character.


Sentencing can involve a maximum of five years in prison. Of course, the maximum sentnece would be further limited to two years where the charges are heard in the summary rather than the indictable stream. Imprisonment often considered by Judges and Magistrates, but other sentences such as fines, good beaviour bonds and community corrections orders can be imposed.

Related offences

  1. Intentionally Cause Serious Injury
  2. Recklessly Cause Serious Injury
  3. Intentionally Cause Injury
  4. Recklessly Cause Injury


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