What is the Law on affray in Minnesota and What are the Punishments for it?
Affray is an instance of a public order offense that consists of fighting off one or more persons while disturbing the peace of a public place. Depending on the extent of disruption along with the law of the respective jurisdiction, those taking part in affray may also be liable to get prosecuted for riot, assault, or unlawful assembly. It is not merely an offense against any individual it is considered a crime against the state itself. The word affray is derived from the French word ‘effrayer’ which means affright.
Affray is an offense punishable by law. Hence, to prove the occurrence of affray the state must prove beyond any reasonable doubt three essential elements of the said crime:
- There was a physical fight between two or more individuals
- The said fight occurred in a public place
- The fight disrupted public tranquillity and was the source of terror for surrounding people who qualify as ‘ public’
Affray may occur in two different types of locales that can be designated as public places
- In the first category falls the places that are normally considered public because of the purpose of their use or nature of the use. Generally, these places are owned or by the government itself. Sometimes they can also be owned by a private business which is open to general public traffic. For instance highways, roads, sidewalks, streets, highways, apartment complexes, shopping malls, parks, etc.
- The second category of public place for affray is a private property that is located close enough to a public place that the people there could bear witness to the altercation and get affected. For instance, a private place that is in close vicinity or in earshot distance of a street, or sidewalk.
Although it is vital to remember the physical presence of another person is not always necessary to be present at the scene. That means any person can be charged with affray even though there was no other person present there to feel terror from the incident.
Executive authorities often charge affray in a situation where the fight involves numerous people. Although this can often make it extremely challenging for the authorities to identify who inflicted the unlawful and illegal violence upon who; especially when there is no CCTV footage as evidence
Penalty for Affray in Minnesota
Ten years is the maximum amount of penalty anyone can get for the charge of affray against them.
Generally, affray is an offense that is dealt with in a District Court or a Local Court. But more often than not it goes to a local court in Minnesota. Where the maximum penalty is two years of imprisonment. Sometimes if the person charged is a first time offender, they can most likely get away with paying a fine or community service. The penalty depends directly on the seriousness of the damage caused.
If a person is found guilty or he/she pleads guilty in the court against the charge of affray they will get a criminal record.
Ways to defend the charge of affray1. Duress
If you can prove someone else made you or manipulated you into initiating a violent reaction. Although that needs to be proved without a reason of doubt that a third person ‘made you do it’.
If you can prove that you were defending yourself against an assault, if that can be shown as the sole reason for your attack then the affray charges can be dropped.
3. ID evidence
If there is insufficient evidence that you were present there or you committed the offense.