What is Affray? 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 is guilty of affray and liable to imprisonment for 10 years – serious stuff!!
The client was in a pub in a rural town playing the pokies. He won free spins, and took that opportunity to duck away to the toilet. When he returned, another man was playing his machine. The man had failed to notice the credits in the machine and put $50 in, despite people calling out to him that someone else was playing that poker machine.
When the client returned, words were exchanged, the parties were close together, and the client pushed the other man away. The man came back swinging and there was a bit of pushing and shoving. Police were called. Our client apologized to the other man, who started arguing with police and our client. Our guy was charged with Affray and placed on bail – despite living hundreds of kilometers away. This meant that he had to return to Tamworth Local Court just to answer his bail for a brief court appearance to enter a plea of not guilty to the affray charge.
Police added a charge of offensive conduct. The solicitor advised the client that the affray charge was nonsense and could not be proved. CCTV footage supported the advice.
Representations were made to police who sensibly agreed to withdraw the affray charge. A plea of guilty was entered to the offensive conduct. The Magistrate imposed a very small fine. Happy client.
There are too many instances of people being charged with affray – an extremely serious offence – where a relatively minor dispute takes place.