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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.

West's Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


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.
Collins Dictionary of Law © W.J. Stewart, 2006

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.

A Law Dictionary, Adapted to the Constitution and Laws of the United States. By John Bouvier. Published 1856.
References in periodicals archive ?
Bouncer Dean Flowers was found guilty of affray WALES NEWS SERVICE
In response to the charge, Langfield, with short brown hair and wearing a white shirt and blue tie, replied: "To affray? Guilty, yeah."
Lewis Stenhouse, 18, of King's Road, in Connah's Quay, pleaded not guilty to affray and his case was adjourned for trial to June 7.
Haydn Morgan, 42, of Herbert Street, Bridgend; Dean Flowers, 32, of Clos-y-Carlwm, Thornhill, Cardiff; Aled James, 26, of Richard Street, Ferndale; and Dave Wing, 53, of Shearman Place, Grangetown, Cardiff, are all charged with affray and will appear in court on the same date.
The charge of affray carries a maximum penalty when tried summarily - in magistrates' court - of a fine or up to six months in prison and when tried on indictment - in the crown court - of up to three years in prison.
The board added, "Given the CPS decision to charge him and two others with affray, confirmation of his intention to contest the charge and the potential length of time to trial, the board agreed that it would not be fair, reasonable or proportionate for Ben Stokes to remain unavailable for a further indeterminate period."
"A 36-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of affray and a 24-yearold man was arrested on suspicion of affray and possession of an offensive weapon."
Prosecutor David Crook said the plea was acceptable and the affray offence included an assault and the possession of a machete.
A 15-year-old boy from London was arrested on suspicion of violent disorder and on suspicion of possession of cannabis; an 18-year-old man from Sutton on suspicion of affray; and two 18-year-old men, two 17-year-old boys and one 16-year-old boy from Epsom on suspicion of affray.