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What happens when a bar brawl leads to a simple assault charge?

On Behalf of | Apr 12, 2024 | Criminal Defense

Amid a packed crowd in a buzzing bar, two customers get into a heated argument. Seconds later, their trash talk turns into a full-blown fight.

The usual charge for a bar brawl is simple assault. But who gets an assault charge – the one who landed the first punch or the other party who provoked the fight by taunting? The answer is both.

An unlawful attempt to harm another person

According to the California Penal Code, assault is an unlawful attempt to cause a violent injury on another person. In addition, there must be a “present ability” to commit such injury. In simple assault cases, there is no need to prove injury or physical contact.

Penalties of a simple assault conviction

A conviction for simple assault yields a misdemeanor with three possible penalties. There could be a county jail sentence of six months at most, a fine of not more than $1000 or a punishment that imposes a fine and imprisonment.

The fine becomes not more than $2000 when the other party is a parking control officer doing their job. The imprisonment becomes a maximum of one year, with the fine being $2000 at most, if the other party doing their duties is a firefighter or health professional, among others. Nurses and doctors must be giving emergency medical care outside a health facility when the assault happened.

How to deal with simple assault charges

If you’re worried about assault allegations, there are several defenses against simple assault. These include wrongful accusation and accidental assault.

You can also assert that you received consent from the other party or defended yourself, another person or a property. Getting criminal law legal assistance can help you craft your defense as you seek to avoid jail time and protect your criminal record.