Can I Be Charged With Felony Assault In a Bar Fight?
What To Do If You Get Charged With Felony Assault In a Bar
After a long day at the office, you have a couple beers and watch a sports game at the local bar. But the guy next to you is being annoying, so you tell him to shut up. The situation escalates and eventually you end up exchanging punches. If you get lucky, the situation will calm down and you can move on. But if things get out of hand and the police are called, you could be arrested and find yourself facing criminal charges. If this situation happens to you, you’ll want to contact a qualified San Tan Valley criminal defense attorney for representation.
How Bar Fights Can Lead To Criminal Charges In Arizona
While intoxication from alcohol and drugs causes people to make stupid choices, criminal charges such as assault are not a laughing matter. Even a verbal threat toward someone can result in legal problems. A bar fight can result in second-degree charges, which can lead to up to 10 years in prison and a $5000 fine. If the bar fight included a gun, knife, or other weapon, you may find yourself facing charges of first-degree assault and up to 25 years in prison if you are convicted. An assault conviction will affect your future employment opportunities along with your social connections.
Do Bar Fight Charges Qualify As Felonies Or Misdemeanors?
It’s important to take a charge of assault seriously and consult with your Mesa criminal defense attorney. In many situations, an assault conviction is a simple misdemeanor. The alleged victim does not need to suffer a physical injury; you can still be charged with misdemeanor assault if the other person had a reasonable fear of being about to suffer bodily harm.
In other situations, you may be charged with aggravated assault, which is a felony. This is typically charged when the defendant caused serious physical injury or disfigurement of the alleged victim or used a deadly weapon. Aggravated assault is not limited to a knife or a gun; for example, you can be charged if you picked up a piece of broken glass in an effort to intimidate someone. You may also face charges of aggravated assault if simple assault is committed against a person such as a police officer, even if you do not use a deadly weapon. If you are convicted of aggravated assault, you can expect to be punished with 5-15 years in prison, or more if you have a prior conviction, along with the consequences of having a felony conviction.
When Does It Count As Self-Defense?
Some bar fights can be considered self-defense, depending on the circumstances and what can be proven or not proven in court. You are still likely to be arrested by the police officers who arrive on the scene; the question of whether the situation was actually self-defense will be sorted out afterward in an investigation. It’s always best to get representation and legal advice from your Apache Junction criminal defense lawyer, especially if you believe you are innocent and acted in self-defense.
Avoiding Bar Fights Is The Best Way To Prevent Assault Charges
Of course, avoidance of bar fights is the best way to prevent assault charges, with its associated misdemeanor or felony on your record. Here are some tips to help avoid bar fights:
Don’t Reciprocate Actions
Don’t return insults, avoid eye contact with people who are staring you down, don’t push or punch in return.
Take a Deep Breath
Taking a few seconds to calm your emotions will help reduce your adrenaline so that you can make a good decision in the heat of the moment.
Tell The Other Person You Don’t Want To Fight
Not only does this clarify your intentions to potential witnesses, but it encourages the other person to stop and leave you alone.
Aggression, insults, and name-calling encourage bar fights. In many cases, the aggressor will leave you alone if they realize you aren’t getting angry.
You Can Still Be Charged With Disorderly Conduct After a Brawl In Arizona
Sometimes, bar fights are just brawls and no one gets injured, but you can still be charged with disorderly conduct. It’s still best to avoid any kind of bar fight altogether. If the situation results in minor injuries, you may be charged with a misdemeanor; if someone is severely injured, a weapon was used, or someone was restrained, you may be facing felony charges.
How Criminal Defense Lawyers Deal With Assault Charges
After a bar fight, your first call should be to a Gilbert criminal defense firm so you can get the representation you need. Criminal defense attorneys can defend you against assault charges in a variety of ways. They will conduct their own investigation which will include surveillance cameras or phone recordings, finding witnesses, determining whether alcohol or drugs were involved along with finding out who was impaired and who was not, the motivations and circumstances behind the fight, and more – because a lot of factors are involved in these situations and can be put together differently to form an effective defense strategy.
In court, your attorney can utilize a variety of defenses to avoid a conviction or reduce the charges. These include self-defense and defense of another person, but in both of these situations, your actions must have been reasonable and proportionate to the threat. The same is true if you used deadly force. For example, you cannot respond to an inappropriate gesture by whipping out a pistol and shooting someone, and expect that to be considered self-defense.
Contact a Criminal Defense Attorney In Arizona
In order to be convicted, the prosecutor must prove all elements of the assault charge; your Arizona criminal defense lawyer may be able to negotiate aggravated assault charges down to disorderly conduct. This is still a serious misdemeanor, but is a lighter charge with less punishment than a felony assault. Call us today for a free consultation.
This blog post is courtesy of Villanueva Skura Attorneys at Law, a top rated Arizona law firm that specializes in criminal defense, DUI defense, and personal injury law. Contact their firm today to get started with the aggressive criminal defense you need.