What is the Law on affray in Wyoming and what are the Punishments for it?
Preventive Law is all about restricting acts by people that result in a breach of rights, damage to life and property and the peaceful and orderly way communities work. States and municipalities stipulate many laws that prescribe limits to how people conduct themselves in public places i.e. what people can and cannot do, with the motive to keep communities operate in order, smoothly, calmly, and peacefully.
The Laws of affray fall in the category of Laws for community welfare and public peace. Affray is actually a common law term of the colonial era and it represents the offense of two or more people fighting in a public place such that it terrorizes people. In codified law, there is no such word as affray, but the misdemeanor of fighting in a public place. The key elements of this crime are:
- Fighting – Stipulated as an exchange of physical blows intended to physically injure another person. If one person attacks another person, it is not a fight, but an assault. The element of exchange of blows with intent to defend oneself or harm another must be there.
- Fighting between two or more people – Altercation with animals, such as a fight between a person and someone’s dog, bull or horse, does not constitute an affray. The fight must occur between two or more people.
- The fighting must terrorize people – People in the vicinity of the fight or in awareness of the fight, have to be terrorized by it i.e. people witnessing the fight fear getting hurt or people refrain from visiting a public place or transiting from a particular location because of the fear of a fight between other people. It is also possible that a fight between two fans at a public stadium, two shoppers at an escalator or in a lift, which creates fearful mass clearance from the seating area or a stampede, also constitute terrorizing people for that moment, hence the offense of affray
In the State of Wyoming, the relevant codified law falls under Statutes for Offenses against Public Peace under Chapter 6 of Title 6, Article 1- Disturbance of Public Order. Firstly, it prescribes the criteria for identifying crime as the offense of disorderly conduct as any activity or inducement that requires necessary intervention to prevent the occurrence of disturbance or lead to any kind of non-peaceful event.
Often prosecuted as disorderly conduct and sometimes referred to as “breach of the peace.” such behavior is identified from common law enlistments and legal precedence and represents many easily identifiable and unambiguous activities, fighting in public is a very obvious example. Peace is hard to come by in urban settings or places offering alcohol or emotional excitement. Hence one may presume that disorderly conduct is a regularly filed criminal charge in any jurisdiction.
Thereafter in Section 6-6-101, it states the offense of fighting in a public place. Herein, if by agreement between participants of the offense, the offenders engage in fighting in a public place, it is deemed as a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment of up to 6 months with or without a fine of 750 dollars.
The term agreement here may represent accepting a challenge to fight explicitly or implicitly or countering any provocation to commit the unlawful act of violence by provoking the other party to also become violent. In simple words, verbal abuse and enticement that gradually escalates into a physical fight at the very opportune moment are viewed as an agreement in the eyes of the law.
Consequently, if a participant is not in agreement and trying to avoid fighting in the eyes of witnesses and as proven by the prosecution, then the subsequent participation in the altercation maybe viewed as self-defense, a most common form of defense during trial proceedings of the said offense.