If you have been charged with; affray, riot or violent disorder, contact The Criminal Law Centre Today on 02 9891 4200 or fill out an enquiry form here. Paul Wiggins is here to help you 24/7 for emergency purposes. With over 33 years of experience and over 4,000 court attendances dealing with these matters, you’ll be in the right hands.
In NSW, Affray and violent disorder are common charges regularly pursued by the police where violent forms of conduct occur. Heavy penalties can be imposed.
These types of charges are different to a charge of assault. Unlike assault their definition, 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/victim needs to satisfy the court he or she is “a person of reasonable firmness present at the scene for fear of his or her personal safety”.
No actual direct harm or physical injury is required. The victim only has to satisfy the reasonable firmness test or concept, 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.
Each type of offence is explained below:
Under section 93 C of the NSW Crimes Act, 1900 a person is guilty of the offence of affray if he or she deliberately uses, or threatens to use, unlawful violence against another person/victim, which causes a person, or people, present (defined as a person of reasonable firmness, to fear for their personal safety). This does not include the use of verbal threats, of themselves.
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,
A person found guilty of affray is liable to imprisonment for 10 years, if the prosecution elect to have the matter dealt with in the District Court as an indictable matter.
Under section 93B of the NSW Crimes Act, 1900 a riot is similar to an Affray however by definition a group of 12 or more people are involved in the offence.
A person found guilty of riot is liable to imprisonment for 15 years again, if the prosecution elect to have the matter dealt with in the District Court as an indictable matter
This offence applies where 3 or more people create a “violent disorder”. It occurs where three or more people use or threatening unlawful violence, and whose conduct, as a group, would cause fear towards the personal safety of other people present (again being 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 property including a vehicle with a weapon, including the use of a baseball bat). If the actions of the offenders cause fear towards the personal safety of others, the offence per section 11A of the NSW Summary Offences Act 1988, occurs.
It is punishable in the NSW Local Court. A maximum term of imprisonment of 6 months, and/or a maximum fine of $1,100.00 can be imposed by the Local Court Magistrate.