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 in Court
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 dences 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.
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:
- Section 10 Dismissal
- Conditional Release Order
- Community Correction Order
- Intensive Correction Order
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.
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.
Going to court can be nerve-racking, but having a strong and compassionate legal team behind you can make the experience significantly easier to deal with.
Here are 12 reasons to choose our multi-award winning legal team:
- Proven Track Record of Exceptional Results
Sydney Criminal Lawyers® consistently achieves outcomes which are in the highest percentile of the Judicial Commission’s sentencing statistics for criminal cases. Our legal team devises effective case-strategies and fights hard to have cases dropped entirely or charges downgraded – saving clients the time, expense and stress of a defended hearing or jury trial. Where cases nevertheless proceed, our lawyers have an outstanding track record of winning defended Local Court hearings, and complex jury trials in the District and Supreme Courts.
We also consistently win appeals in the District and Supreme Courts (including the NSWCCA) after clients have received unsatisfactory results with other law firms in the lower courts.
We are one of the few firms to achieve successful criminal law appeals in the High Court of Australia.
Where our clients wish to plead guilty, we frequently achieve ‘dismissals’ and ‘non convictions’ in cases where other lawyers have advised there is no chance of doing so.
- Highest Level of Client Satisfaction
We have the best and most comprehensive client review record of any law firm in Australia. Regular communication, accessibility and quality service are our team’s highest priorities. We are committed to thoroughly explaining all steps involved in the criminal law process, providing regular updates throughout the proceedings, and making ourselves accessible and responsive.
We are passionate about providing an exceptional level of service to our clients, and we fight hard to achieve optimal results in the shortest period of time.
- Australia’s Most Awarded Criminal Law Firm
We have received more awards and accolades than any other criminal law firm in Australia. Our team has been awarded “Criminal Defence Firm of the Year in Australia” in a number of prestigious and competitive awards programs for several years running. The awards recognise our exceptional track record of results, our outstanding client service, the high level of satisfaction we achieve, the affordability of our services and our overall excellence.
- Fixed Fees
We want our clients to know exactly how much their cases will cost from the very start. That’s why we were the first criminal law firm in Australia to publish ‘fixed fees’, back in 2004. We offer fixed fees for most types of criminal cases and services.
Our fixed fees apply to a range of Local Court cases such as drink driving, drug possession, fraud, common assault and AVOs, and also specific services such as prison visits, bail applications, appeals and defended hearings.
Unlike many other law firms, our fixed fees are published on our website – which ensures transparency and certainty.
- Free First Appointment
For those who are going to court, we offer a free first conference of up to an hour with one of our Senior Criminal Defence Lawyers. We also offer a free first conference to those who have received an unsatisfactory result after being represented in court by another law firm, or after representing themselves, and wish to appeal.
- Specialist Lawyer Guarantee
We guarantee that only lawyers with substantial criminal defence experience will work on your case and appear for you in court. This ensures our clients receive the highest quality representation from an experienced, specialist criminal lawyer.
- All NSW Courts
From Bombala to Broken Hill, our lawyers appear in courts throughout New South Wales – and across Australia for Commonwealth cases. And we offer fixed fees for most criminal and traffic law cases throughout the state.
- Accredited Specialists
Our entire firm is exclusively dedicated to criminal law – which makes us true specialists. All of our lawyers have years of experience representing clients in criminal cases, and our principal has been certified by the Law Society of NSW as an Accredited Criminal Law Specialist since 2005. An ‘Accredited Specialist’ is a lawyer who has practised for at least 5 years in a particular field of law (such as criminal law), has passed a rigorous assessment process conducted by the Law Society of NSW, and has been selected by the Specialist Accreditation Committee of the Law Society as an expert in the field. Accredited Specialists are required to undertake more training each year than other lawyers and must be successful in having their accreditation renewed every year. Specialist Accreditation is the mark of a true specialist.
Our firm’s specialist experience ensures you receive the best possible result, whatever your criminal law case may be.
- Results-Focused Law Firm
Our team is passionate about achieving results, and unlike many other law firms, our lawyers do not have monthly financial ‘budgets’ to meet. The absence of budgets means our lawyers are entirely focused on achieving optimal results in the shortest space of time; whether by getting charges dropped or downgraded at an early stage or having cases ‘thrown out of court’. Not having budgets also means our lawyers are not under pressure to engage in unscrupulous practices such as unnecessarily adjourning cases or ‘overcharging’ clients – which, sadly, is a common complaint against many other lawyers and law firms.
No budgets encourages regular consultation between lawyers within the firm – promoting an ‘open door’, team environment where lawyers bounce ideas off one another, formulate case strategy together and benefit from each other’s specialised experience, methods, techniques and insights.
The result is a firm which delivers optimal outcomes in the shortest time periods, at the least expense and stress to our clients.
- Team of Lawyers Behind You
Our clients benefit from the pool of knowledge that only an extensive team of experienced criminal defence lawyers can provide. Our lawyers regularly consult one another to stay ‘ahead of the pack’ in the ever-changing field of criminal law – constantly devising, refining and implementing specialised techniques which ensure our clients achieve the best possible outcomes. A team approach is particularly important when it comes to serious criminal cases such as murder, commercial drug cases, serious and sexual assaults, large-scale fraud, robbery and other ‘indictable’ cases.
In such matters, clients reap the benefits of several lawyers devising and executing case strategies which maximise the chances of having cases dropped or downgraded at an early stage, or ‘thrown out of court’ – often saving clients a great deal of cost, time and anxiety.
- Familiar with Magistrates and Judges
Each of our lawyers appears in court on a daily basis, and has done so for years. We have therefore been able to develop an understanding of, and rapport with, magistrates and judges in Sydney and indeed across the state. Our team’s extensive experience before the courts ensures your case is tailored to the specific nuances of individual judicial officers, maximising the likelihood of a favourable result.
We have offices in locations across the Sydney Metropolitan Area and beyond, including:
- the Sydney CBD, on Castlereagh Street, directly opposite Downing Centre Court,
- Liverpool, directly opposite Liverpool Local Court, and
- Parramatta, near the justice precinct.
We offer free parking at our Sydney CBD and Liverpool locations, and all of our offices are close to train stations and bus terminals.
For those who are unable to attend our offices, we offer conferences by telephone, Skye and FaceTime anywhere around the world.
If you are going to court and wish to arrange a free first consultation, call our 24 hour hotline on (02) 9261 8881 or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.