Bar Fights and Assault
Most people go to bars to relax either alone or with their friends. Unfortunately, a group of individuals drinking alcohol in one location have relaxed inhibitions. Under the circumstances, it is easy for a fight to break out. Alcohol and drugs can affect judgment and result in a verbal tiff that escalates into violence. Bar fights can result in assault charges. If you are concerned about bar fights and assault charges, experienced Phoenix assault defense lawyer James Novak may be able to provide knowledgeable representation to fight these charges.Bar Fights and Assault
You should take a charge of assault in Arizona seriously. Most assaults are simple misdemeanors. They occur if the prosecutor can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you intentionally or recklessly caused an injury, however slight, to somebody else. It can also be a misdemeanor assault if the reason for touching was to insult or provoke somebody else. You do not need to actually cause the other person to suffer a physical injury. The major question is whether the other person in the bar fight had a reasonable apprehension that they were about to suffer bodily harm.
Bar fights can also escalate into aggravated assault. There are many different factors that can push a simple misdemeanor into the aggravated assault category. Most commonly, aggravated assault is charged because the defendant caused a serious physical injury or substantial disfigurement to someone else or because the defendant used a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument, intending to place somebody in imminent fear of becoming seriously injured. For example, if you broke a beer stein in a bar and lunged at another person with the broken glass in order to frighten that person during a bar fight, it is likely that aggravated assault would be charged. A mandatory range of punishment may be imposed upon a conviction. Using the example above, if the glass is considered a "deadly weapon," you can be punished with five to 15 years of imprisonment. The potential time in prison increases if you have a prior conviction.
Aggravated assault may also be charged if simple assault is committed against particular categories of people, such as police officers and other public servants. If a police officer tries to stop a fight and you punch him, aggravated assault may be charged.
There are defenses that may be used to avoid a conviction. These include self-defense and defense of others. Whichever actions you claim were in self-defense must be reasonable based on the circumstances and proportionate to the threat. You cannot claim self-defense if you hit someone because they made a remark that you did not like. However, if someone else threw the first punch in a bar fight, you may be able to argue self-defense for hitting back. Similarly, any force that you use to defend a friend in a bar fight must also be proportionate. If somebody puts a hand on your friend's shoulder as a threatening gesture, and you whip out a gun and shoot at the other person, this is not likely to be found to be a proportionate response. You can only use deadly physical force if you believe that it is reasonably necessary to guard against someone else's use or attempted use of the same degree of force.
A prosecutor must prove all of the elements of an assault charge beyond a reasonable doubt. In some cases, it may be possible to negotiate aggravated assault charges down to disorderly conduct charges. Under A.R.S 13-2904, disorderly conduct includes engaging in fighting or disruptive behavior, using abusive language that would provoke somebody else to retaliate physically, or recklessly handling or displaying a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument. Disorderly conduct is the most serious type of misdemeanor, but it is a lighter charge than felony assault.Consult an Assault Defense Attorney in Phoenix or the Surrounding Cities
An entertaining night of drinking at a bar can turn into serious criminal charges. Bar fights and assault often go together. Unfortunately, a criminal record can result in a significant social stigma. You should retain an experienced and tenacious litigator to craft a strong defense. Contact James Novak at (480) 413-1499 or use our online form to set up an appointment with a Phoenix attorney. He represents people who need a misdemeanor or felony lawyer throughout the region, including in Tempe, Mesa, Chandler, Gilbert, Scottsdale, and other cities in Maricopa County.