Have you Been Charged with Affray in Georgia?
There are a multitude of crimes that the public may not be familiar with because they are not as popular with the media. Affray is one of those crimes, and it falls under the category of offenses against public order and safety. If you or a loved one has been charged with affray in Georgia, contact our offices today. We are Georgia's premier criminal defense law firm, and our attorneys are available 24/7. Contact us today for a free case evaluation.
What is Affray in Georgia?
O.C.G.A. §16-11-32 defines affray as the fighting between two or more persons in some public place to the disturbance of the public tranquility.
Therefore, there are three elements to affray
- An intent to fight
- Between two or more people
- In a public place.
Fighting in self-defense would not constitute affray. Furthermore, fighting inside your home would not rise to the level of affray.
What Constitutes Fighting?
Through case law, the Court has found that the use of violent and profane language by two persons is not sufficient to constitute affray even if it was in a public place. Blackwell v. State, 46 S.E. 434, (1904).
In the case of Hawkins v. State, the court convicted the parties for affray because they both withdrew knives from their pockets and one party cut at the other with his knife. 13 Ga. 322, (1853). There must be some action that puts the public in fear or disturbs the peace.
Another case where the defendant was convicted of affray was in In re X. W.. 301 Ga. App. 625, (2009). In that case, a juvenile engaged in a fight to try and secure membership into a gang. The fight was in the bathroom at a school, and the participants agreed to fight. The Court found them guilty of affray.
What Constitutes a Public Place?
The Court has concluded that a place ordinarily private may become a public place under the terms of the statute, by being open to the public upon a particular occasion. For instance, a private banquet hall open to the public for an event would be sufficient. Furthermore, even if a certain class of the public is allowed to enter a private place, it will still not be considered a public place under this statute. In general, the Court states that the place must be one where people can go without an invitation.
Penalty for an Affray Conviction in Georgia
Affray is charged as a misdemeanor in Georgia. Therefore, the maximum fine will be $1,000 and the maximum jail time could be one year.
It was not a public place: Evidence that the fight occurred in a private place and not in a public place will negate an essential element of the crime of affray, and the crimes will likely be dropped.
The incident did not disturb the public tranquility: If the actions were not severe enough to disturb the peace, then the charges could be dismissed. Witness statements or other evidence would be beneficial in proving this argument.
What are Not Defenses
Both parties agreed to the fight: It does not matter whether or not the parties consented to the fight. The statute states that as long as the public tranquility is disturbed, then a person can be charged with affray.
Even though a misdemeanor charge is not as serious as a felony conviction, it does not mean you do not need legal assistance. Being charged with a crime requires the help of an experienced criminal defense lawyer. You won't find anyone better than the attorneys at Lawson and Berry. Their experience is unmatched, and they truly care about every client. Contact our offices today for a free case evaluation and see the difference for yourself.