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What is the Law on affray in Massachusetts and what are the Punishments for it?

Affray occurs when at least two persons fight with one another in a public location, causing terror to the onlookers and ordinary people. In other words, it has a tendency of causing an alarm to the community. The fighting has to be mutual in order to qualify as affray.

In case an individual attacks someone else unlawfully while the latter tries to defend her/him, the act is not considered to be an affray. In this scenario, the first individual will be held guilty of the battery and assault rather than affray. The term affray has been derived from "effrayer", a French word signifying to affright. 

The state of Massachusetts has defined laws to handle offenses for disturbing the peace and disorderly conduct, being annoying at a public place, being noisy, criminal use fighting, and so on. In simple words, it is any such behavior exhibited by a person that might provoke, upset, or alarm others.

Massachusetts Affray Law
Although municipalities and states have different viewpoints on what should be included in disorderly conduct, which is also referred to as a breach of peace from time to time, such regulations and laws target behavior, which causes disturbances in public order and tranquility. 

Affray defined

The offense of affray is defined in the customary law or common law as the fighting of at least two individuals in a public location and causing terror to the people lawfully there. However, the law does not bar the accused from self-defense when charged with such an offense, It is imperative for the defendant to hire the services of a good defense counsel in Massachusetts who can present their cases in the court effectively.

Affray is regarded as one of the common law offenses or crimes in the state of Massachusetts. It is typically defined by the courts in the following manner:

  • There should be fighting between a minimum of two persons
  • It should occur in a public location
  • The act should give a scare to common people lawfully
Affray Law Massachusetts

Thus, if the prosecutor has to establish that the accused is guilty of the criminal offense of affray, they need to prove three points beyond reasonable doubts. These are as follows:

  1. The accused had a fight with one or several persons;
  2. Such fighting took place in a public site;
  3. A minimum of one individual present at that public location got scared due to the occurrence of such a fighting

As far as the first element of affray is concerned, fighting refers to using violence or physical force or any other kind of threat for using such violence or force immediately. 

Punishments for Affray in Massachusetts

Defendants who are convicted of affray could have to serve a sentence or could be punished based on the nature of their criminal offense. To make it easier to understand, if the injuries are more severe in nature, the prosecutor could add for a more stringent and harsher penalty. 

Affray Law

The sentence for convicted of affray in Massachusetts 

As the General Laws of the state do not mention any kind of penalty for an affray, the convicted defendant can be penalized under common law that has provisions of criminal sentencing in case a statute does not specify any punishment. 

Also, the self-defense law is also applicable to the common-law offense of affray in Massachusetts. An individual should have been involved in alleged fighting without lawful excuse and willingly. On the other hand, when an individual responded in self-defense or to defend someone else, it could be regarded as a lawful excuse according to the law pertaining to affray and the accused can escape from being convicted. 

Definition of fighting in Massachusetts 

Fighting has been defined by the Commonwealth law as using violence, threat, or physical force and to immediately use such violence or force.


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