What is the Law on affray in Washington and what are the Punishments for it?
The disorderly conduct (also referred to affray in some American states) is regarded as a misdemeanor in the state of Washington in the United States of America. The state's law regards any act as disorderly conduct in any of the following four scenarios:
- When a person purposely disrupts either pedestrian or vehicle traffic without having lawful authority
- Disrupts any lawful meeting or assembly intentionally without lawful authority
- Engages in tumultuous conduct or fighting intentionally or make unreasonable noise within a funeral's 500 feet, or
- Purposefully provokes a fight and uses abusive or objectionable language toward some other individual
It is to be noted that the law of Washington needs the prosecution to establish more than an actor simply being engaged in disorderly conduct in the general sense. The next section covers each of the above points in detail.
Using abusive language is the most common form of disorderly conduct in the state of Washington. It is done to provoke another individual to engage in an assault. While the laws in the state uphold freedom of speech, there is no law for protecting fighting words. It is interesting to note that fighting words are used for provoking a fight intentionally. Any verbal abuse to insult the ethnicity, family members, or race is a widely-used means for provoking a fight.
Also, what is crucial to point out at this juncture is that the prosecution must establish that the defendant had the intention of provoking a fight. However, it is not always easy for the prosecution to establish that. The effort often depends on circumstantial evidence.
Many times, the courts in Washington have passed judgments that a person not to be charged with a disorderly conduct act just because a law enforcement personnel was insulted when he/she was on duty. Also, the courts regard them as an above provocation. A good example of this point would be when a strong case is built based on the use of abusive languages meted by the defendant along with statements like "hit me" and so on.
Another way to conduct an act of disorderly conduct in the state of Washington is when an individual intentionally disrupts a lawful assembly or a meeting. Such kind of lawsuits often comes up due to disruptions made when meetings are being conducted at the city hall.
However, it is also imperative to note here that it is not illegal when a person makes certain statements at one of the public hearings, which are simply inflammatory, rude, or insulting.
It is safeguarded by the 1st amendment. Yet, a person is allowed to make such statements only when he/she is allotted time during the period of public comment. When a person persists to speak out of turn, as well as, refusing to abstain from doing so, it can lead to a charge of disorderly conduct.
A person is also said to have committed disorderly conduct in Washington when he/she purposely disrupt pedestrian or vehicle traffic without having the necessary lawful authority. Such a kind of disorderly conduct typically occurs when a march, rally, or political protest occurs on the roads. It is, in fact, a known fact, that it is an extremely common form of disorderly conduct. The police frequently arrest many demonstrators and may even file charges against them later on.
Lastly, an individual may also commit disorderly conduct when he/she causes disruption to a funeral service. Such an offense may be common at military funerals in the state of Washington.
Penalties for affray in Washington
The state of Washington considers disorderly conduct as a misdemeanor with maximum jail time of 90 days or/and a maximum fine of 1,000 USD upon conviction.