What is Affray? - Legal Definition & Laws

Instructor: Tisha Collins Batis

Tisha is a licensed real estate agent in Texas. She holds bachelor's in legal studies and a master's degree in criminal justice.

In this lesson, the term affray will be defined, and laws regarding affray will be discussed. Upon completion, the reader should have a firm understanding of this term.

Oh No, a Fight!

Tabitha liked to cause problems and was always picking fights with other women. One day, she saw another woman she didn't like at a grocery store. She picked a fight, and it became physical. Other customers at the store were shocked and afraid at the intensity of the fight. The police were called, and Tabitha went to jail. The charge? Affray. Tabitha was confused.

Affray? What is THAT?

Affray is another word for what is commonly known as a fight. It must involve two or more people, must occur in a public place, and must cause terror to the other people in public for it to be affray. It is a criminal act that could result in an offender being arrested and facing criminal charges. It is also known as disorderly conduct.

Is this Affray?

So What's the Penalty?

Affray is against the law. Different states have different laws, and each has its own punishments for those that are involved in these offenses. In some states, there must be an agreement between two individuals to fight in a public place for the fight to be defined as affray.

In the state of Florida, affray is a first degree misdemeanor offense. It is punishable by up to a year in prison and up to a $1,000 fine. In the state's statutes, riot is also addressed just after affray. The difference between the two is that a riot is a third degree felony, and the punishments for that are different. For offenders to be involved in a riot, they would have to number three or more and be assembled together with a common intent.

Texas is one state that categorizes affray as disorderly conduct. It is categorized as such because Texas sees disorderly conduct as behavior that is disruptive but doesn't involve serious danger to others. It is believed that two people fighting each other in public most likely won't cause danger to the public. Affray is a Class C misdemeanor in Texas which can lead to a fine of no more than $500. The offense will rise to the level of a Class B misdemeanor if an individual shows or discharges a firearm at the time. In this case, the fine could quadruple and the offender could face jail time.

It should be noted that the punishments are quite different between states, especially between Florida and Texas. While an offender may find himself in prison for up to a year and $1000 poorer in Florida, another offender won't face jail time and will spend half the amount in fines in Texas.

If You Break an Affray Law You Could be Arrested

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