Affray – s 93C Crimes Act 1900


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Being charged with affray has the potential to have a negative impact on your life as it may result in a criminal record, which could affect your ability to work and travel.

But with the help of the experts at Sydney Criminal Lawyers, you can fight to have the charges dropped or dismissed, so that you can move on with your life.

Affray refers to situations where you use, or threaten to use, unlawful violence towards another person, and where your conduct would cause an ordinary person to fear for their safety.

The offence of affray has developed in recent years, largely in response to various high-profile public order disturbances, such as the 1984 Milperra Massacre.

Your Options

Pleading Not Guilty

Before you can be found guilty of affray, the prosecution must prove two things beyond a reasonable doubt:

  • That you used or threatened unlawful violence towards another person or towards property
  • That your conduct would have caused a person of ‘reasonable firmness’ to fear for their safety (however no other person needs to be present for you to be charged with affray)

If you feel that either of these two factors cannot be proved beyond a reasonable doubt, you may wish to enter a plea of ‘not guilty’ and have one of our highly-experienced criminal lawyers fight the charges in court.

Our lawyers have won countless affray cases and can help you present evidence to prove your side of the story – for example, that you did not intend to cause other people to fear unlawful violence, or that a reasonable person would not have feared for their safety in the circumstances.

In many cases, we are able to have the charges dropped at an early stage by highlighting these types of issues with the prosecution case.

Our criminal law experts can also advise you of any possible defences that can be raised to explain your actions.

Commonly raised offences for affray include:

  • Where you used unlawful violence to protect yourself, your property or another person (self-defence)
  • Where you were threatened or coerced into using the unlawful violence (duress)
  • Where you used unlawful violence to prevent serious injury or danger (necessity)

If you are thinking about pleading ‘not guilty’, it is important to speak to an experienced criminal defence lawyer who will be able to advise you of your options.

Pleading Guilty

In some situations, you may not wish to dispute the allegations against you. In these cases, you may wish to enter a plea of guilty to the charges.

Often, entering an early guilty plea can be beneficial as it will show to the court that you have accepted responsibility for your actions. It will also avoid the time and expense involved in a trial or hearing to determine your guilt.

Because of this, the court will usually give you a discount on your sentence (in other words, you may receive a lesser penalty) for pleading guilty at an early stage in the proceedings.

However, before entering a plea to any criminal charge, it is important to speak to an experienced criminal lawyer who will be able to advise you whether there is any possibility of fighting the charges.

If you are considering pleading guilty, it is important that you are aware of the maximum penalties that may apply.

The maximum penalty for affray depends on which court your matter is heard in.

Most affray cases can be dealt with by the Local Court, where the maximum penalty is 2 years imprisonment.

However, in serious cases, the prosecution can choose to have the matter dealt with in the District Court, where the maximum penalty is 10 years imprisonment.

It is important to note that these are maximum penalties only; hence they will apply in only the most serious affray cases. The courts will only use imprisonment as a last resort.

The courts have the power to impose a wide range of alternative penalties, including:

With the help of our expert defence team, you can give yourself the best chance at obtaining a favourable sentence.

Our lawyers have a proven track record of obtaining lenient penalties in even the most difficult affray cases and will prepare compelling sentencing submissions which highlight factors such as your good character, or lack of a previous criminal record, which can help you secure a positive outcome.

Our dedicated lawyers fight hard from start to finish to ensure that our clients achieve the best possible result in every case.

Why Sydney Criminal Lawyers?

Life can seem difficult and stressful when you or your loved ones are charged with affray.

However, with the help of our highly experienced criminal law specialists, you can take steps to fight the charges and secure a positive outcome in your affray case.

The expert defence team at Sydney Criminal Lawyers has a long and proud history of fighting and winning some of the most serious and difficult affray matters, including charges arising from the 2009 Bikie Brawl at Sydney Airport.

Our expert lawyers consistently achieve outstanding results by examining all the evidence to raise problems with the prosecution case – for example, where there is no evidence to prove that you intended to cause other persons to fear unlawful violence, or where you have a valid defence to explain your actions.

Frequently, we are able to have charges dropped by raising these types of issues at an early stage – saving you the time and expense involved in going to court.

Should the prosecution refuse to drop the charges, we can fight hard to secure the best possible outcome so that you and your loved ones can move on with your life.

In many affray cases, our highly-skilled advocates are able to persuade the court to impose a ‘section 10’ – which is where you are found guilty of the offence but no conviction is recorded on your criminal history, leaving you free to work and travel as you please.

For the best possible defence in your affray case, trust the experts at Sydney Criminal Lawyers. Contact us today on (02) 9261 8881 and book a FREE first conference with our expert lawyers to find out how we can help you beat your affray charge.

What the Law Says About Affray

If you’ve been charged with affray, you may want to find out more about how the charge can affect your life.

We have included some additional information below that may assist in understanding your affray charge.

What does the prosecution need to prove?

Before you can be found guilty of affray, the prosecution must prove two things beyond a reasonable doubt:

1. That you used or threatened unlawful violence towards another person or towards property

For there to be an affray, the prosecution must show that you intended to use violence, or that you were aware that your conduct may cause someone to fear violence.

Violence can include damage or injury caused to persons or property, as well as any conduct which may result in injury – for example, throwing objects that are capable of causing injury at other persons, even if your actions do not result in injury.

There must be evidence of a physical act, such as the making of threatening movements or gestures. Words alone will not be enough to constitute an affray.

The threatening conduct may occur in either a public or a private place – in other words, you may charged with affray where you were in a private house, or a more public area, such as an airport, beach or pub.

2. That your conduct would have caused a person of ‘reasonable firmness’ to fear for their safety (however no other person needs to be present for you to be charged with affray)

Your conduct must be shown to cause an ordinary person to fear for their safety.

However, it is not necessary for people to actually be around for there to be an affray – for example, you may still be charged with affray if you are seen making threats or acting in a threatening manner on CCTV footage, even if no other people are nearby.

If these two elements cannot be made out beyond a reasonable doubt, you will be found ‘not guilty’ of affray.

What penalties could I face?

Although the law states that the maximum penalty for affray is 2 years imprisonment when your matter is dealt with in the Local Court, and 10 years imprisonment when your matter is dealt with in the District Court, these types of penalties will only apply in the most serious affray cases.

The type of penalty that you will receive depends on a number of factors, including the nature and extent of the violent conduct, whether persons or property were harmed, and whether the offence was committed in a public place.

Ultimately, the magistrate or judge will determine the appropriate penalty after considering all of these factors, as well as other circumstances, such as your criminal record, and the likelihood of you reoffending.

Statistics indicate that the average penalty for an affray charge is a s 9 good behaviour bond for 12 months where the matter is dealt with in the Local Court, or 18 months where the matter is dealt with in the District Court.

A s 9 bond means that the court will require you to be of good behaviour for a specified period of time (in other words, you will not be able to commit any further offences). They may also impose additional conditions upon you – for example, you may be prohibited from entering a particular area.

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