What is affray?

Section 93C of the Crimes Act 1900 provides that a person who:

  1. 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.

Affray is committed when a person intentionally uses or threatens unlawful violence towards another that would cause an ordinary person, present at the scene, to fear for their personal safety. It does not matter whether or not another person was actually present. It is enough that if a person were present, they would have feared for their safety.

If an accused person did not have an intention to use or threaten violence, it is enough that the accused is aware that their conduct may be violent or threaten violence.

A threat of violence cannot be made through the use of words alone. A physical act (eg. excessive gesturing or posturing) must accompany the threat.

An affray can occur in a private or public place (see examples of where it can happen below).

Affray is a charge that is commonly laid by police when they are unable to pinpoint the main aggressor in a public or private brawl.

Examples of where an affray may occur:

  • A pub, club, bar or restaurant
  • A house party or gathering among friends
  • The beach
  • Sports match
  • The road
  • A public demonstration

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