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Affray and Public Violence NSW

In NSW, Affray, Riot and Violent disorder are common charges for violent conduct, and carry quite heavy penalties. These three charges cover acts involving violent conduct towards other people, as well as property, where the offender deliberately (and with full awareness) causes, or intends to cause, injury or damage.

While these charges may seem similar to assault charges, they differ in their definition, as the charge relies on a person of reasonable firmness (in layman’s terms, a reliable witness) who is not a participant in the violent conduct, being disturbed. The person of reasonable firmness is usually an innocent bystander.

offender does not actually have to harm the person of reasonable firmness – the person merely needs to feel as though their personal safety is at risk; in fact, the person does not even need to be present at the scene when the violent conduct occurs. The three separate charges of affray, riot and violent disorder are explained below. 

Affray

Under section 93C of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW), A person is guilty of affray if they deliberately use, or threaten to use, unlawful violence against another person, which causes a person, or people, present (defined as a person of reasonable firmness; in layman’s terms, a reliable witness) to fear for their personal safety. This does not include the use of verbal threats alone.

A good example of affray is a street fight between two people, where an onlooker feels as though their personal safety is at stake. An affray may occur in a private or a public place, and the person/s of reasonable firmness does not have to be present at the scene.

A person found guilty of affray is liable to imprisonment for 10 years.

If you have been charged or are facing a police interview, contact our criminal lawyers today to make an appointment to see one of our lawyers.

Riot

Under section 93B of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW), a riot is defined as 12 or more people who are using or threatening unlawful violence , and whose conduct, as a group, would cause fear towards the personal safety of other people present (persons of reasonable firmness). The 12 or more people must be present at the scene, which may be a public or private location, and it does not matter whether or not the riot group threaten unlawful violence simultaneously. As with affray, the person/s of reasonable firmness does not have to be present at the scene.

A person found guilty of riot is liable to imprisonment for 15 years.

Violent Disorder

Under section 11A of the Summary Offences Act 1988, violent disorder occurs where three or more people are using or threatening unlawful violence, and whose conduct, as a group, would cause fear towards the personal safety of other people present (persons of reasonable firmness). All three (or more) offenders must be present at the scene; however, the person of reasonable firmness need not be present. Violent disorder may be directed towards property (such as, damage to a vehicle with a baseball bat), and as long as the actions of the offenders cause fear towards the personal safety of others, the offence is punishable.

A person found guilty of violent disorder is liable to imprisonment for 6 months, and/or a maximum fine of $1,100.00.

If you have been charged or are facing a police interview, contact our criminal lawyers today to make an appointment to see one of our lawyers.

Disclaimer : This article is just a summary of the subject matter being discussed and should not be regarded as a comprehensive legal advice for you to defend yourself alone. If you are charged with criminal offences, it is recommended that you seek legal assistance from criminal lawyers.

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