Using Your Fists Can Land You in Jail
Unless you are competing in a ring, using your fists can have serious legal consequences in California. Most fights stop after a few blows or just one, in the case of Will Smith's display of aggression towards Chris Rock at the Oscars this week. Other times, someone breaks it up, or the confrontation comes to an end naturally. However, sometimes it takes law enforcement on the scene to bring it to an end, and often arrests are made. There can be significant injury or death in severe situations because of a fight gone wrong. Recently, a St. Patrick’s Day bar fight ended in the death of a man. Fighting is an outward act of aggression and is often impulsive after provocation and is intensified or triggered when under the influence.
Are Bar Fights Illegal?
Although most barfights are seen as harmless, they break several laws in California. Even if both parties walk away from the confrontation friendly, charges may still be filed and lead to an arrest. One of the potential charges, especially in San Diego, is disturbing the peace. Although a misdemeanor, it can include jail time and fines. Interestingly, a disturbing the peace charge includes verbal attacks and confrontations that may cause someone else to engage in a fight, just like Chris Rock's comment about Will Smith's wife that resulted in him being slapped across the face. Now, it isn't likely Chris Rock will file charges, but legally, he could under disturbing the peace law. Another possible charge associated with bar fights is assault. Assault is attempted violence. Bar fight participants will typically face misdemeanors unless a deadly weapon is used or under extenuating circumstances. The third charge that will likely be filed in the case of a bar fight is battery. Battery is when bodily harm is caused by using force. As imagined, the fines and jail time increase with each charge. If serious injury or death occurs, there will be felony charges filed. Not to downplay the fines and jail time possible with a misdemeanor, but these penalties accumulate depending on the court's final ruling on the charges. Having an experienced professional criminal defense attorney is essential when facing these charges because the fewer, the better. A lawyer can help assess what the prosecution is presenting and find arguments against the evidence and witness testimonies, working to get reduced or dismissed charges.
Additionally, if property damage occurred during the fight, a bar may file charges. An experienced criminal defense attorney will fight the disturbance, assault, and battery charges for you. Contacting a local legal representation immediately upon being arrested and charged is critical. Trying to fight the charges on your own, especially when facing multiple charges, is beyond challenging. Most defense attorneys, like Joni Eisenstein, offer a free consultation. Once you speak with a professional and they provide you next steps, a huge burden is lifted.
Facing Charges in a Bar Fight
Bar fights have been around a long time, and they are not likely to come to a stop anytime soon. Adding alcohol to a bad day, a breakup, or anything else that might trigger a tipping point, can easily lead to an exchange of fists. If acting in self-defense or protecting another person, the charges may be reduced or dropped. However, if the one facing charges was heavily intoxicated, the judges will not typically rule in favor of dropping those charges.
The bar fight in Orange County on St. Patrick’s Day (commonly celebrated with alcohol) ended in a worst-case scenario. At the end of the fight that night, one walked away, and the other was taken to the hospital after law enforcement arrived. Later, the one taken to the hospital died. The police then arrested the suspect after being identified by witnesses. It is evident that anything resulting in someone's death will have more severe implications for the person being charged with causing or aiding the death somehow. In this situation, the suspect will be facing felony charges. It is vital to seek a qualified and reputable attorney when facing felony charges. An attorney will work to have those charges reduced.
The prosecution will either be hired privately by the victim's family or appointed by the courts. Legal counsel familiar with the local courts and judge’s history of decisions on similar cases provides those facing charges a significant advantage. In misdemeanor cases, a criminal defense attorney may be able to have charges reduced to community service, lower fines, home arrest, and rehabilitation classes. Many options are available to fight disturbance, assault, and battery charges. Ensuring you are doing everything possible to get the best results is best for you, your family, and your loved ones.
If you are on the fence about hiring a defense attorney, stop thinking about it, and do it now
Hiring a criminal defense attorney like Joni Eisenstein can help you go from a place of uncertainty to freedom.