As defined by New Mexico law, the crime of “public affray” occurs when two or more people fight by using blows or some other type of violent conduct toward each other in a public place and, in doing so, cause a disturbance to others. Public affray is a petty misdemeanor and is punishable by up to six months in jail and/or a fine of up to $500. However, if a party involved can demonstrate that they were acting in self-defense after being attacked then that person cannot be charged with public affray.
With that definition in mind, we need to examine two other situations that are similar to public affray: simple assault and simple battery.
Simple assault involves 1) attempting to strike another individual without making contact, 2) intentional words or actions that cause another person to feel that they are in danger, or 3) the intentional use of words that attack another’s character or reputation. In the absence of other factors, simple assault is a petty misdemeanor. However, if a weapon is used or if the assailant pursues a party that is attempting to flee from the assault, the charge can be raised to a full misdemeanor or even a felony
Simple battery involves physical contact with another person when that contact is unwanted and done in an aggressive or hostile manner. Simple battery is also a petty misdemeanor but, in specific circumstances, a more serious charge can be made. Battery of a police officer, a fireman, or a healthcare worker while they are performing their duties may lead to charges as a fourth degree felony. Battery of a household member may also result in a more serious charge. If a weapon is used in battery, the charge is automatically a felony.
Legal Representation and Public Affray Charges
From the information presented above it should be obvious that it is very important to determine questions of responsibility in cases of public affray vs. burglary charges. Anyone who has been charged with public affray should contact a criminal defense attorney before appearing in court in order to insure that all the evidence in their case is presented before a judgement is rendered.