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      Our Affray lawyers have years of experience in having our clients found ‘not guilty’ and even getting charges withdrawn early in the proceedings.

      We appear in courts throughout Australia for assault and affray charges on a daily basis. Whether you are pleading ‘guilty’ and want to avoid a criminal record (eg. Section 10 dismissal or Section 32 Mental Health application) or are pleading ‘not guilty’ and believe you have a defence, our specialist criminal lawyers can provide you with expert advice.

      If you are not sure whether you should be pleading ‘guilty’ or ‘not guilty’ you should read below – or better yet, contact us immediately for an initial free consultation with our accredited specialist in criminal law.



        What is Affray?

        Section 93C of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) defines Affray as a person using or threatening to use unlawful violence towards another person which causes a person of “reasonable firmness” present at the scene to fear for his or her personal safety.

        Affray is a ‘Table 1’ offence under the Criminal Procedure Act 1986 (NSW). As such, it is finalised in the Local Court unless yourself or the prosecution elects to deal with it in the District Court.

        It is rare for an Affray charge to be heard in the District Court unless there are associated serious charges being heard in the District Court.

        How do you beat an Affray charge?

        You can beat an Affray charge in two ways. Firstly, Police must prove beyond reasonable doubt that:

        1. you used or threatened to use ‘unlawful violence’ to another person or property; and
        2. you intended to use, or intended to threaten to use, violence; and
        3. this would normally cause a person of ‘reasonable firmness’ to fear for their safety.

        If any of these elements are not made out, then you can be found ‘not guilty’.

        Secondly, you can rely on one of the defences.

        If you believe you may have a defence or are unsure, our highly experienced lawyers can give you immediate advice on all of the possible defences open to you and:

        1. Which defence(s) is/are best suited to your case;
        2. What evidence can be used or needs to be obtained to make out the defence;
        3. Identify and exploit holes in the Police case against you.

        Contact us now to speak to an experienced Affray lawyer today. We can begin preparing your defence immediately.

        What are the Defences to Affray?>

        You can be found NOT GUILTY to an Affray charge if:

        1. Self defence: In this case you will be arguing that any violence you used was not ‘unlawful’. This defence includes if you were defending another person
        2. Accident: your actions were accidental. You had no intention of assaulting anyone and you could not have foreseen that your actions would constitute unlawful violence
        3. Identification: Police cannot identify you as the perpetrator of the Affray
        4. Duress: That you were forced to commit the offence
        5. Necessity: your actions were necessary in the circumstances

        As you can see, there are a number of ways to be found ‘not guilty’. You may even have more than one defence open to you.

        A common example of this if you were acting in self defence but Police also have difficulty in identifying you as the person responsible for the Affray. You can defend the charge in two ways:

        1. Argue that Police have not established beyond reasonable doubt that you were at the scene or responsible for the Affray;
        2. Concede that you were at the scene but your actions were in self defence or in defence of another person.

        Going down the second path may mean that Police no longer have an issue in establishing that it was you at the scene or responsible for the Affray. The Court could then determine that you weren’t acting in self-defence and find you guilty.

        But wait:

        Going down the first path may mean that if the Court believes you were responsible for the Affray, self defence is no longer open to you as you have not argued that you were defending yourself.

        As you can see, it is a difficult situation to be faced with and you may require an expert in this area to determine the best path for your case.

        Our specialist Affray lawyers can analyse the case against you to determine the best defence or combination of defences to run. We have had numerous clients found not guilty, as our case studies show. We have a lengthy and proven track record of successfully defending these charges in court, and on actually getting the charges dropped before your court date.


        Before pleading guilty, you should obtain advice from an experienced criminal lawyer. The reason for this is that once you have entered a plea of ‘guilty’, it becomes very difficult to change your plea to ‘not guilty’.

        One of our specialist Affray solicitors can peruse the evidence against you and may find a defence which you had not thought of. We can also downgrade your charge to a less serious charge, such as Common Assault or Assault Occasioning Actual Bodily Harm.

        If you have taken advice, you must then begin preparing for sentencing. See our guide for a general overview of what is required. Of course, you will need to consult a specialist criminal lawyer for representation in Court and advice specific to your case. Contact us now to speak to our team.

        What is the penalty for Affray?

        Affray is a type of assault charge which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years jail if your case is heard in the District Court. In the Local Court, the maximum sentence for a single offence is 2 years imprisonment.

        What are the Possible Sentences for Affray?


        1. Section 10 dismissal
        2. Conditional release order without conviction (previously known as Section 10 good behaviour bond)
        3. Fine
        4. Conditional release order with conviction (previously known as Section 9 good behaviour bond)
        5. Community Corrections Order (previously known as Community Service Order)
        6. Intensive Corrections Order
        7. Home Detention Order (no longer used in NSW)
        8. Full Time Imprisonment


        Will you go to jail for Affray?

        While it is impossible to predict the exact Affray sentence you will receive, we can provide a range of likely sentences. Analysing 4044 cases in the Local Court from the last 5 years, only 12% of cases received no conviction for Affray. The remaining offenders all received convictions and 13% of offenders were sentenced to full-time imprisonment.

        Clearly, an Affray charge is extremely serious. More people are sentenced to jail than receive Section 10 dismissals. That is why it is important that you speak to one of our highly experienced criminal defence lawyers for affray charges to obtain the best possible outcome.


      • What is the legal definition of affray?

        Affray is defined in Section 93C of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) as:

        A person who uses or threatens unlawful violence towards another and whose conduct is such as would cause a person of reasonable firmness present at the scene to fear for his or her personal safety.

      • What is the Sentence for a first offence Affray?

        The maximum penalty for Affray is 10 years jail on indictment (ie. If your case is heard in the District Court). If your case remains in the Local Court, the maximum sentence for a single offence is 2 years imprisonment.

        Even if it is your first offence, you can still receive a sentence of full-time imprisonment if the facts of the offence are serious.

        To help avoid this, we can negotiate with the Police to downgrade the charge and/or minimise the seriousness of the facts sheet that the Magistrate or Judge reads. This could make a significant difference in avoiding a gaol sentence or avoiding a conviction.

      • Is affray more serious than assault?

        Affray is a more serious charge than common assault (which carries a maximum penalty of 2 years imprisonment) and assault occasioning actual bodily harm (which carries a maximum penalty of 5 years imprisonment).

        If you do not have a defence, or wish to plead guilty, we can usually negotiate with the Police to have the Affray charge downgraded to either common assault or assault occasioning actual bodily harm.

      • Can affray be committed by one person?

        Yes. In order to make out a charge of Affray, the prosecution do not need to prove that a person of reasonable firmness was present at the scene of the incident. They only need to prove that your actions would have caused a hypothetical person of reasonable firmness fear.

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