Affray and Public Violence Offences
The definitions and maximum penalties associated with Affray and Public Violence offences in South Australia
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Affray Public Violence
In SA, Affray is treated seriously by the Courts. The maximum penalty for Affray is imprisonment for 3 years for a basic offence and 5 years for an aggravated offence.
According to the Criminal Law Consolidation Act, a person who uses or threatens unlawful violence towards another and whose conduct is such as would cause a person of “reasonable firmness” at the scene to fear for his or her personal safety is guilty of affray.
Affray may be committed in a private place as well as in a public place (a place or part of a place that the public is entitled to use).
What are some examples of Affray?
Common examples of Affray may include:
- Participating in a fight in front of one person or a group of people;
- Extreme road rage; or
How can I defend this charge?
There are a number of ways to successfully defend this charge.
For the purposes of this offence, a threat cannot be made by the use of words alone. Therefore, if the action consists of only a threat by words, then you may not be convicted of this offence.
A person is guilty of affray only if they intend to use or threaten violence, or is aware that their conduct may be violent or threaten violence to others. Therefore, if it can be shown that the person had no intention to use or threaten violence, and the person was not aware that his or her conduct may be violent or threaten violence, they may not be guilty.
Other ways to defend this charge may be to:
- Maintain your innocence and say that you did not commit the act (although there is risk involved with this considering that there may be a number of witnesses especially if the act was committed in the public arena);
- Say that a person of reasonable firmness would not have feared for their personal safety as a result of your conduct; (an experienced lawyer is needed for this argument as this is a very complex avenue to take to defend this charge)
- Argue self-defence or necessity.
- Will I get a criminal record for this charge?
If you are found guilty of this offence, you are likely to get a criminal record.
A criminal record may have disastrous effects on a person’s life. It can wipe out many employment prospects and diminish chances of overseas travel. It is essential that you contact an experienced lawyer.
Riot is treating very seriously in South Australia. The maximum penalty for this offence is imprisonment for 7 years for a basic offence and 10 years for an aggravated offence.
Where 12 or more persons who are present together use or threaten unlawful violence for a common purpose and the conduct of them (taken together) is such as would cause a person of reasonable firmness present at the scene to fear for their personal safety, each of the persons using unlawful violence for the common purpose will be deemed guilty of riot.
The maximum penalty for a basic riot offence is 7 years and for an aggravated offence is 10 years.
It must be remembered that a person will be guilty of riot only if the person intended to use violence are was aware that their conduct may be violent.
What are some examples of Riot?
Usually, a riot occurs in a large group of people and may involve unlawful physical violence against others such as kicking, punching, throwing dangerous objects. Riot can also be committed in a private place (such as a home).
An example of Riot includes:
- Public protesting in the streets of a CBD that escalate into extreme physical violence;
How can I defend this charge?
Importantly, the acts or threats must be enough to cause a person of ‘reasonable firmness’ to fear for their safety if they were at the scene at the time. The more aggressive or serious the acts or threats are, the more likely a Court will find that a person of ‘reasonable firmness’ would fear for their safety. Remember, if it cannot be shown that a person of reasonable firmness would have feared for their safety, you may not be guilty.
You may also argue that there were less than 12 people in the group, that you were not a part of the group, or that there was no threat or use of violence.
Do I need a lawyer to represent me for Affray or Public Violence?
Absolutely. There are many defenses to argue to successfully beat an Affray or Public Violence charge, as well as lessening the penalty. If you are worried about imprisonment, fines or having a criminal record, we urge that you contact a lawyer immediately. Our solicitors specialize in these matters and will use their experience and expertise to lead you through the process to the best possible outcome. Remember, all cases are arguable and defendable!
Where to Next?
In South Australia, you can see that Affray Public Violence offences are treated very seriously. It is therefore important to get the best legal advice as early as possible. Call the best – Call Liptak Lawyers on (08) 8366 6584
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