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What is the crime of affray?

Criminal law
What is the crime of affray?

The term 'riotous affray' is of interest to many people, both inside and outside the legal sphere.

Here you will find out exactly what this offence is, how it differs from other similar offences and how it is punishable by law.

What is affray?

A riot is behaviour where those involved fight with each other using elements that can endanger the lives of other people.

It is an offence under Article 154 of the Criminal Code. 

In this offence there is a real and concrete danger to the life or physical integrity of persons, but it is not required that a harmful result is produced.

The legal good protected in this type of offence is the life or physical integrity of persons.

However, public order is also protected as a legal good, which in this type of conduct is altered, causing social alarm.

Requirements for the crime of riotous affray

Below, we describe the requirements that must be met for the crime of tumultuous brawling to exist:

- That the offence is produced through the confrontation of two groups of people whose discussion stops at the physical terrain, i.e. ends in a fight.

- In the melee, everyone is pitted against everyone else in such a way that in the confusion it is impossible to see who is attacking whom.

- That one or more of the participants in the altercation use means that endanger the physical integrity or the life of the persons involved.

From this point onwards, all the persons participating in the riot are perpetrators of this offence.

However, if only one of the groups uses dangerous instruments in the confrontation, the perpetrators are only those who are part of the group.

Difference between mob violence and other crimes of mob violence

Mob violence can sometimes be confused with other offences such as assault or rioting.

Although these offences may appear to be similar, there are important differences that distinguish them in legal terms.

The main difference between mob violence and other crimes of mob violence lies in the absence of a specific criminal purpose.

In a mob brawl, the main purpose is not to commit other crimes, such as causing serious injury or property damage, nor does it need to take place.

Rather, it is a violent confrontation that may start as a result of a clash of opinions, rivalry between groups or simple lack of control in crowded situations.

However, when riots or assaults occur, the criminal purpose is usually more defined, such as looting an establishment or causing serious injury to a particular person.

Another important difference is the degree of organisation.

In riots, there may be advance coordination to carry out the criminal acts.

By contrast, in the case of a riot, the violence is more spontaneous and less planned.

Details and penalties of the Penal Code.

The Penal Code describes tumultuous brawling in article 154 with a penalty of imprisonment of 3 months to 1 year or a fine of 6 to 24 months.

In Article 154 it is clear that in order for a riot to occur, it is not necessary to cause injury or damage to property.

The key characteristic of the riot is its collective nature: it is not a simple fight between two people, but involves the participation of several people in a situation of group violence.

The offence of affray and the offence of assault and battery

In a criminal offence of affray, there does not necessarily have to be an injurious result.

However, injuries of varying severity are common.

However, there are differences between the two offences (affray and assault and battery):

- Mobbing is a dangerous offence: the risk to life and limb is punished.

- In the case of assault and battery, on the other hand, it is a crime of result, i.e. it causes a harmful result with obvious personal injuries that can be justified.

Likewise, in the case of tumultuous brawls, the intentional conduct of the people involved is punished, who act knowing the risk they are causing with their behaviour.

On the other hand, in the offence of assault and battery, there may be malice on the part of the perpetrator, but it may also be reckless conduct.

The legal process for the offence of affray

If you are involved in a brawl and you are arrested, you are facing criminal proceedings where it is essential that you have the advice of criminal lawyers. 

Although there are several types of criminal proceedings, we are going to describe the legal process in broad terms, which begins with the complaint filed by the victim, a witness or the Attestation of the authorities who arrived at the scene of the incident.

From this point on, the procedure has several phases:

- Investigation phase, where the investigation of the facts is done to gather evidence and testimonies from the persons involved and witnesses.

This will include the identification of the aggressors and the gathering of evidence, such as video recordings, photographs etc.

In short, the aim is to determine who is or are guilty of the crime, thus preparing for the next phase, which is the oral trial.

- Between the pre-trial and the trial phase, there is another stage called the intermediate phase.

At this stage, an assessment is made as to whether the investigation of the case has been properly completed or whether further proceedings are necessary.

At this intermediate stage, it may also be decided to dismiss the case or to open the case for trial.

- Oral trial: at this stage, the evidence and statements of witnesses, expert witnesses and other parties are heard.

Once the conclusions have been formulated by the lawyers of the parties, the judge passes sentence declaring the guilt or not of the accused and the imposition of the corresponding punishments.

The sentence is subject to appeal depending on the result and the professional criteria of the criminal lawyers who assess whether or not it should be appealed.

In conclusion, if you are charged with the crime of disorderly conduct it is very important to have good legal advice to analyse the charges you face and the defence strategies in the criminal proceedings.

If you need us to defend your rights, contact us for a no-obligation consultation.

Criminal law

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