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Saturday night's not alright for fighting

It was quite a night. You and some friends hit the bar and had a great time listening to music, singing karaoke and blowing off some steam. Then came the fight. Whether your opponent was a spur-of-the-moment choice or someone for whom you have harbored a longtime grudge, things got out of hand, and you ended up in handcuffs.

In the heat of battle, you may have been in your glory. However, in the morning, you are likely feeling a little sheepish and wondering about the consequences of your actions. A lot depends on the specifics of the incident, but if the bar fight resulted in injuries, your future may be on the line.

Assault and battery charges

Fighting in public is illegal in Florida and every other state, although how each jurisdiction handles the charge may vary. At the very least, you may face charges of disorderly conduct or disturbing the peace. Misdemeanor charges like these often result in weeks or months behind bars and a fine, although you may be fortunate to receive a sentence of community service. However, alcohol-fueled bar fights often go beyond a simple disturbance, and you may face other, more serious charges, such as:

  • Assault: You do not have to physically touch someone to be charged with assault. Did you make a threat to your opponent that had the potential for causing immediate fear or intimidation? For example, did you raise your fist and threaten to punch someone's lights out? Did you get off your bar stool and take menacing steps toward the other person?
  • Battery: Under the law, even a touch without permission can be battery. Did you grab or shove the other person? Did you break your opponent's nose? Was blood spilled or bones broken? Did your opponent require medical attention?

Assault and battery charges can carry much higher penalties than disturbing the peace, especially if prosecutors determine that you intended to do harm to your opponent. Additionally, if you used a weapon, you may have felony charges to deal with. You may be looking at years in prison and thousands in fines, as well as restitution.

Your defense may include the claim of self-defense or that you had no intention of hurting the other person. There may also be mitigating factors that will affect the severity of the charges. However, building such a defense is best done in cooperation with a skilled and experienced professional.

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