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The offence of using or threatening, other than by words alone, unlawful violence. The conduct must be such as would have caused a reasonable person to fear for his safety, though no such person need be present. The defendant must intend to use or threaten violence or, alternatively, must be aware that his conduct may be violent or threaten violence (R v Smith [1997] 1 Cr App R 14). The offence is found in the Public Order Act 1986, though it can be committed in private as well as in public places. It replaces the common-law offence of affray and is punishable on indictment with up to three years' imprisonment and/or a fine or, on summary conviction, by imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months or by a fine. A constable may arrest without warrant anyone he reasonable suspects is committing affray. See also assault; riot; violent disorder.

Subjects: Law.

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