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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.


noun agitation, altercation, battle, brabble, brawl, brush, clash, combat, commotion, conflict, disturbance, embroilment, encounter, fight, fisticuffs, fracas, fray, free fight, hand-to-hand fight, melee, passage at arms, pugna, rixa, row, scrimmage, scuffle, set-to, sortie, squabble, struggle, tumult, tumultuous assault, tumultus, turmoil, tussle, violence
See also: altercation, battle, belligerency, collision, commotion, conflict, confrontation, disaccord, dispute, disturbance, embroilment, fight, fracas, fray, outbreak, outburst, pandemonium, riot


in English criminal law, the use or threat of the use of unlawful violence, causing a person to fear for his safety, defined in terms of the fear caused to a person of reasonable firmness fearing for his safety. Mere words are sufficient, and the offence maybe committed in public or private with no other person actually being about.

AFFRAY, criminal law. The fighting of two or more persons, in some public place, to the terror of the people.
     2. To constitute this offence there must be, 1st, a fighting; 2d, the fighting must be between two or more persons; 3d, it must be in some public place ; 4th, it must be to the terror of the people.
     3. It differs from a riot, it not being premeditated; for if any persons meet together upon any lawful or innocent occasion, and happen on a sudden to engage in fighting, they are not guilty of a riot but an affray only; and in that case none are guilty except those actually engaged in it. Hawk. b. 1, c. 65, s. 3 ; 4 Bl. Com. 146; 1 Russell, 271.

References in periodicals archive ?
A second man, aged 28, also from the Wirral area, was arrested on suspicion of affray and common assault.
Simon Rogers, prosecuting, said in June 2011 Pughe was given a 12 month community order at Shrewsbury magistrates' court after pleading guilty to affray when he, his brother and father had to be ejected from a pub after causing a disturbance when were refused drinks because they were already too drunk, when they had been out celebrating his grandmother's 100th birthday.
David Craig Cochrane from Windyhall Park in Coleraine and Rodney Gardner from Knocklynn Grange in Coleraine were re-arraigned on a charge of causing an affray on May 29, 2009, and they both pleaded guilty.
Carpenter William McGuinness, 47, of Peterbrook Road, Shirley, denied affray but admitted public disorder.
The last divers to go down and examine Affray said she is still looking good as she lays gently rocking with the current in the English Channel, near Alderney.
Gavin Greig, 19, of Arthur Street, Golcar, violent disorder and affray - 15 months in young offender's institute.
Dappy faces a maximum sentence of three years' imprisonment for affray and six months for assault by beating.
No trial took place as Sirrell denied affray but admitted a lesser charge of threatening behaviour.
1, disturbing the peace, disorderly conduct, resisting arrest, inciting a riot, common law affray, possession of marijuana with intent to distribute and a drug violation near a school or park.
James Cullen, 23, of Llys Glanrafon, Rhyl, received 14 months, consecutive to a prison sentence he is already serving, after he admitted the affray, which in his case was racially aggravated, and the public order offence.
The 44-year-old Cardiff City supporter was found in possession of a knuckleduster when he was arrested for affray outside the Ninian Park pub in Canton, Cardiff, last June.
A FORMER captain of Aston Villa's youth team and his soccer star brother have been charged with affray over a fight outside a Birmingham nightspot.