The crime of affray is a common law offense in Massachusetts that is not found in our criminal law statutes. Affray has been defined by our courts as follows:

  • the fighting together of two or more people
  • in a public place
  • to the terror of the persons lawfully

In order to prove that a defendant is guilty of the common law crime of affray, the government or prosecutor must prove three essential things beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. That the defendant actually fought with one or more other other;
  2. That the fighting happened in a public place; and finally;
  3. That at least one person in the public place was put in fear as a result of the fighting that occurred.

A defendant who is convicted of common law affray would be punished under G.L. c. 279, Section 5, which provides for a sentence based upon the nature of the crime which "conforms to the common usage and practice in the Commonwealth. In other words, the more serious the injuries, the more likely a prosecutor would seek a harsher penalty.

The law of self-defense is applicable to the Massachusetts common-law crime of affray. A person must have engaged in the alleged fighting “willingly and without lawful excuse.” However, if a person acted in self-defense of either himself or another he would have an affirmative defense that could constitute a "lawful excuse” under the affray law and avoid a conviction.

Attorney Patrick J. Murphy is an experienced Boston and Massachusetts affray crimes lawyer that you can trust to successfully defend your affray case. The Law Office of Patrick J. Murphy has successfully defended common law affray cases in courts throughout Massachusetts and will assert all necessary affirmative defenses dealing with criminal offenses, including the law of self-defense. Attorney Murphy routinely has affray cases dismissed or resolved without any negative consequences to a client. If you have been charged or have received a summons to appear in court on an affray charge, it is important to have experienced counsel appear on your behalf and provide aggressive and effective legal representation. Contact the Law Office of Attorney Patrick J. Murphy today for a free and confidential discussion of your case.

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