In law, affray is the fighting of two or more persons in a public place to the terror (in French: à l'effroi) of the lieges.

The offence is a misdemeanour in English common law, punishable by fine and imprisonment.

A fight in private is an assault and battery, not an affray.

As those engaged in an affray render themselves also liable to prosecution for assault, Unlawful Assembly, or Riot. It is for one of these offences that they are usually charged.

Any private person may, and constables and justices must, interfere to put a stop to an affray.

In the United States the English common law regarding affray applies, subject to certain modifications by the statutes of particular states (Bishop, Amer. Crim. Law, 8th ed., 1892, vol. i. sec. 535).

The Indian Penal Code (sect. 159) adopts the English definition of affray, with the substitution of actual disturbance of the peace for causing terror to the lieges.

The Queensland Criminal Code of 1899 (sect. 72) defines affray as taking part in a fight in a public highway or taking part in a fight of such a nature as to alarm the public in any other place to which the public have access. This definition is taken from that in the English Criminal Code Bill of 1880, cl. 96.

Under the Roman Dutch law in force in South Africa affray falls within the definition of vis publica.

Based on an article from a well-known encyclopedia published in 1911.
All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License.

Af*fray" (#), v. t. [p. p. Affrayed.] [OE. afraien, affraien, OF. effreer, esfreer, F. effrayer, orig. to disquiet, put out of peace, fr. L. ex + OHG. fridu peace (akin to E. free). Cf. Afraid, Fray, Frith inclosure.] [Archaic]


To startle from quiet; to alarm.

Smale foules a great heap That had afrayed [affrayed] me out of my sleep. Chaucer.


To frighten; to scare; to frighten away.

That voice doth us affray. Shak.


© Webster 1913.

Af*fray" (#), n. [OE. afrai, affrai, OF. esfrei, F. effroi, fr. OF. esfreer. See Affray, v. t.]


The act of suddenly disturbing any one; an assault or attack.



Alarm; terror; fright.




A tumultuous assault or quarrel; a brawl; a fray.

"In the very midst of the affray."


4. Law

The fighting of two or more persons, in a public place, to the terror of others.


⇒ A fighting in private is not, in a legal sense, an affray.

Syn. -- Quarrel; brawl; scuffle; encounter; fight; contest; feud; tumult; disturbance.


© Webster 1913.

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.