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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 classic literature ?
The Indian girl had been hurried off by her people at the outbreak of the affray.
We cannot but remark that both in this affair and that of Pierre's Hole the affray commenced by a hostile act on the part of white men at the moment when the Indian warrior was extending the hand of amity.
In the meantime, Crooks and M'Lellan had learnt the cause of the affray, and were each eager to take the quarrel into their own hands.
There were, moreover, Gothic letters, Hebrew letters, Greek letters, and Roman letters, pell-mell; the inscriptions overflowed at haphazard, on top of each other, the more recent effacing the more ancient, and all entangled with each other, like the branches in a thicket, like pikes in an affray.
in an affray near Carthage, Leake county, Mississippi, between James Cottingham and John Wilburn, the latter was shot by the former, and so horribly wounded, that there was no hope of his recovery.
The mob hitherto had been passive spectators of the scene, but as the intelligence of the Pickwickians being informers was spread among them, they began to canvass with considerable vivacity the propriety of enforcing the heated pastry-vendor's proposition: and there is no saying what acts of personal aggression they might have committed, had not the affray been unexpectedly terminated by the interposition of a new-comer.