(redirected from affrays)
Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Encyclopedia.


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 ?
It is important to stress that participation in scuttling affrays was not universal among young working-class males, even in those areas where the gangs were strongest.
In order to develop a more detailed analysis of scuttling affrays in relation to masculine notions of honour and reputation, I now propose to examine a series of cases involving John Joseph Hillyar, a leading Salford scuttler during the 1890s.
76) By the time he was aged seventeen, Hillyar was well-known to the members of rival gangs, and a third case shows how youths with prominent reputations were singled out by the members of opposing gangs during affrays.
Moreover, it is equally plausible that prosecutions were viewed as an alternative means of revenge for scuttlers who had been worsted in affrays.
Considerable peer-group prestige was at stake in scuttling affrays, and feuds between rival gangs generated a momentum of their own as gang members sought to avenge defeats and thus to salvage their honour.
Those who resisted such requests from scuttling gangs were sometimes dealt with more severely, and the local press reported cases where young men were beaten up for refusing to assist local gangs in an affray, or for a refusal to contribute to collections to pay the fines of those convicted for scuttling.