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What is the Law on Affray in Hawaii and What are the Punishments for it?

Affray refers to any violent act between two people in public that causes other people to present discomfort. When the law came into being, such actions when committed in a judicial court or Church was severely punished. Law states that being in possession of arms in public by itself does not warrant the enforcement of the law.

If the person possessing the arm threatens another individual with it, only then is it considered affray. An act needs to involve a physical threat. A verbal threat alone is not grounds enough to be considered affray. Additionally, an affray can be committed to private also and need not always take place in public.

The laws regarding Affray in Hawaii differ in different ways from the laws prevalent in other states. For example, most states use the term Affray to criminalize drunken behavior, or as an intentional disturbance of peace in the neighborhood with violence in the form of brawls, etc.

Hawaii Affray Law
However, the Hawaiian affray rules include minor annoyance in the public also. A brief explanation of the prohibitions regarding disorderly conduct laws in Hawaii are as follows:

  • Engaging in group fights or in violent behavior that poses a potent threat to the public close by.
  • Accusations and making threats
  • Making noise which is unjustified.
  • Instigating offensive behavior or language that is more than likely to provoke a violent response
  • An unauthorized action which is hazardous or physically offensive
  • Forcefully obstructing a person in public in a place open to public

Unjustified noise and measurement scales:  Hawaiian Affray laws strictly prohibit making or creating an unjustifiable sound which causes inconvenience to the general public. However how much is unjustified since it is not a measurable property.

Unjustified or unreasonable sound, according to the Hawaiian disorderly conduct statute states that the noise is unreasonable considering the motive behind producing such loud noise, the person’s conduct, and demeanor at that time.

Affray Law
The law will also take into consideration and compare if a law-abiding citizen would have made the same loud sound in similar circumstances. The law would also look into the nature of the location and time of day or night when the offense occurred.

The noise is also deemed unreasonable if the offender continues to create sound even after a law enforcement officer orders him to stop or reduce the volume of the sound.

Disorderly conduct in free speech

The essential right to free speech is considered a fundamental constitutional action for every resident citizen or expatriate alike. However, certain kinds of speech fall under the unconstitutional category. The law makes it illegal to alarm or startles a person or the public with the intention of forcing a response from him that may be violent or offensive.

Affray Law Hawaii

Penalties in the Hawaiian statutes

Disorderly conduct is considered a minor misdemeanor if it was the offender's intention to cause harm and inconvenience and if the offender persists with his rude behavior

The severity of affray is measured in degrees. The first-degree affray refers to assault that is just short of homicide. It is charged as Class B felony by US law.

Second-degree affray is when the perpetrator acts outside of self-possession and is, as a result, considered a lower class of felony.

Third-degree affray is charged when the members in the scuffle have both consented to the fight and haven’t dealt with serious bodily harm to each other. It is chalked up as a misdemeanor.

Today, affray is more commonly referred to as assault in the penal code. Affray and assault charges are the same and both are penalized similarly by law.

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