Criminal Investigations by the Insolvency Service
by Camilla Rents | Criminal Defence Generally
Affray is a serious criminal offence which is triable in both the Magistrates’ Court and the Crown Court that can result in a range of sentences including imprisonment. However, affray can also lead to community based penalty and the difference between seeking expert legal advice and not, could be the difference in whether custody is imposed. If you have been charged with affray or are under investigation for the offence, it is essential to seek legal representation from experienced criminal defence lawyers. This is where Old Bailey Solicitors can help.
At Old Bailey Solicitors, we are dedicated to providing comprehensive criminal defence services for individuals facing both affray and other public order offences in London, Sussex, and Surrey. Our team of highly skilled solicitors will work tirelessly to defend your interests and achieve the best outcome possible for your case.
Affray is a type of breach of the peace and is defined under the Public Order Act 1986, section 3, as “using or threatening unlawful violence towards another and your conduct is such as would cause a person of reasonable firmness present at the scene to fear for their safety.” In other words, the offence of affray involves the use or threat of unlawful violence in a public place, causing fear and alarm to others. This could be a physical altercation, brandishing a weapon, or making verbal threats of violence. It is a different violent offence to those that take place in a private place.
Affray can often happen when people get drunk and rowdy. Many examples relate to incidents in bars and clubs (or a public house) and can involve serious violence. If a person along with another uses or threatens unlawful violence towards another third person, the conduct of them both together must be taken into account. However, an affray charge may also be brought in circumstances analogous to football crowds where supporters from rival teams cause substantial fear to either each other or other members of the public and where personal safety is at risk.
If you are charged with affray, the prosecution must prove that your actions caused a person of ‘reasonable firmness’ to fear for his or her personal safety. This does not mean the person the use or threat of violence was towards, but rather a hypothetical bystander.
This means that in cases where someone threatens unlawful violence towards another, that other does not actually need for fear unlawful violence. Instead, what is coined as a ‘hypothetical bystander’, or the reasonable person who has ‘reasonable firmness’, which in other words would be someone who was not overly hardy and not scared of anything, but equally not someone that would be caused fear for their safety by a pigeon flying in front of them. Someone somewhere in the middle.
Our team of criminal defence lawyers has extensive experience handling affray cases and will work to build a strong and effective defence on your behalf. This experience allows us to be effective cross-examiners, strong advocates and provide you with clear-cut and expert advice on all public order offences.
We understand the complex nature of affray cases and will thoroughly review the evidence against you to conduct a detailed examination of the facts. We will advise you coherently whether it is in your best interests to plead guilty, or whether it is best to take the matter to trial.
Our solicitors will also provide you with the support and guidance you need throughout the legal process. We will keep you informed of all developments in your case and will work to ensure that you are always provided with the best possible expert legal advice.
The sentence imposed for an affray offence will depend on the specific circumstances of the case, including the level of unlawful violence used and the impact on the public.
Circumstances such as whether serious injury was caused, or whether the circumstances were such that a person was to threaten violence or actually use violence, all have a bearing on whether a more serious offence is committed or not. Moreover, offences committed against or which involve emergency workers are likely to be taken more seriously by the courts given the public policy relating to the personal safety of police officers and other emergency workers to be protected whilst on duty.
If there are aggravating factors present, the Sentencing Guidelines dictate that the court should find the sentence more severe. These factors include the incident occurring in a busy public area, leading role in a good activity, use of weapons thrown (or a person armed), vulnerable persons or children present, and commission of the offence under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol.
Affray can be a serious offence caused by a person’s disorderly conduct, which the Public Order Act looks to protect the general public from. If you have threatened unlawful violence and have subsequently been charged with affray or are under investigation, it is critical to seek legal representation as soon as possible. It may be the case you have acted in self-defence and caused substantial fear of violence to protect yourself from attack. In these circumstances, committing affray may be lawful. In these circumstances, the general principles of justice dictate that it may not be in the public interest to prosecute you for affray.
Contact Old Bailey Solicitors today to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced criminal defence lawyers with a good track record and vast experience in dealing with cases involving serious violence and offences under the Public Order Act 1986. Our expert team includes police station representatives who can represent clients in the police station, day and night.
In addition to our extensive legal knowledge, we also offer a compassionate and client-focused approach. We understand that facing a criminal charge for affray can be a stressful and overwhelming experience, and we are here to support you every step of the way. Our goal is to provide you with the legal representation you deserve and help you achieve the best possible outcome in your case, avoiding the maximum penalty for affray if at all possible.
Don’t hesitate – get in touch with us today to schedule a confidential consultation. We are here to help you achieve the best possible outcome for your case.
The maximum sentence for affray is three years in prison.
However, with the help of our experienced criminal defence lawyers, it may be possible to avoid a custodial sentence for this offence. In some cases, a community sentence, such as a fine or community service, may be imposed instead of a prison sentence.
Our team will work to minimise the consequences of your affray charge, or all together prove your innocence and help you achieve the best possible outcome for you.