What does affray mean?

Affray is a public order offence, in contravention of section 3 of the Public Order Act 1986 and classified as a ‘breach of the peace’ as a result of disorderly conduct.

The definition of affray in the UK states that the offence is committed if a person threatens or uses unlawful violence or force towards another person, which causes another person of reasonable firmness present at the scene to fear for their safety.

It is the concept of how a bystander may be in fear of their safety if they were present and witnessed what was happening.

If two or more people threaten or commit violence against another person, the conduct of both individuals together is taken into account.

The offence of affray can be committed in private or in public.

Affray cannot be committed verbally. There must, at the least, be a physical gesture of some kind as it must be sufficient to amount to the use of or the threat of unlawful violence.

Affray charge

Affray is a criminal offence which is triable either way, with cases heard in either the crown court in front of a judge and jury, or in the magistrates’ court in front of magistrates.

The offence will rarely be tried in the magistrates’ court as it is usually escalated to the crown court.  

If found guilty of affray when tried on indictment the maximum sentence is three years’ imprisonment. You may also receive an unspecified fine.

When tried summarily in the magistrates’ court, you face a sentence of a maximum of 6 months in prison, plus a level 5 fine.

What to do if you are accused of affray in the UK

If you have been accused of committing affray, you should seek specialist legal representation as soon as you are able to do so. You should ensure you seek the best legal representation in order to secure the best possible outcome for your case.

Affray is a complex area of the law and legal advice and expertise is crucial to ensure that the best outcome is achieved at every stage of the case.

The criminal defence solicitors at Lawtons are experienced in defending cases of affray and will understand the implications of an accusation of affray on your individual case. Whatever your circumstances, we will be able to advise and assist you.

If you are arrested on suspicion of affray, we can represent you at the police station during an interview. If you’ve already consulted the duty solicitor at the police station, you can then proceed to instruct a criminal defence solicitor from Lawtons to assist you.

We are available to represent you 24 hours a day to protect your rights, ensure you receive the best advice and help you achieve a positive outcome in your case.

It’s crucial to consult an experienced solicitor who is experienced in the police interview procedure to provide assistance at every stage. We can also represent you at a voluntary police interview – or Caution Plus 3.  

Get in touch with the team at Lawtons, who can provide advice and support at every stage of the legal proceedings. We will work with you to establish the facts of your individual case with the aim of achieving the best outcome for you.