(Answered from the UK) It's a public order act offence (section 3 of the 1986 act).
Affray is committed when a person uses or threatens unlawful violence. But it doesn't stop there. The law also requires a hypothetical person of "reasonable firmness" (who need not even have been present) to be in fear for their own personal safety as a result of this unlawful violence.
It is often used as an alternative charge to assault when a victim doesn't want to pursue a complaint. For years, this was quite normal. Nowadays, people often run the point that a fight or argument that is clearly between 2 people would not cause any other person to be in fear for their own safety. The public order act was created as a reaction to the miners' strike in the mid 80s. The idea was that wanton and random violence would cause fear to any person. The act did not have "alternative to assault" in mind.
Maximum sentence in the Crown Court is 3 years for affray.
(in the US) In those jurisdictions which even have such a statute it usually refers to violent confrontations between individuals, and is worded similarly to - - "two, or more, persons, fighting abroad to the terror of the public."
Actions such as large neighborhood fights, gang fights, near-riots, etc., would be an example
The crime of affray is defined as unlawful physical violence, or the threat of the same. In the United Kingdom, the crime carries a maximum sentence of three years imprisonment and a fine of an undisclosed amount. There is also a maximum sentence of 6 months and the statutory maximum fine for a summary conviction.
A criminal offense generally defined as the fighting of two or more persons in a public place that disturbs others.The offense originated under the Common Law and in some jurisdictions has become a statutory crime. Although an agreement to fight is not an element of the crime under the common-law definition, some statutes provide that an affray can occur only when two or more persons agree to fight in a public place.An affray is a type of Disorderly Conduct and a breach of the peace since it is conduct that disturbs the peace of the community. It is punishable by a fine, imprisonment, or both.Added:Affray is the fighting of two or more persons in a public place to the terror of ordinary people. The tendency to alarm the community is the essence of the offense. In order to be affray the fighting must be mutual. If one person unlawfully attacks another who tries to defend himself it does not amount to affray. Here the first person is guilty of assault and battery not affray. 'Affray' is derived from the French word effrayer, meaning to affright.In order to constitute affray there must be:Fighting;The fighting must be between two or more persons;It must be in some public place ;It must be to the terror of the people.
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