Fights happen frequently at bars, sporting events, concerts, and other public events. While common, the repercussions of becoming involved in a physical altercation can be severe. Even if you didn't instigate the fight, your actions may put you in danger of facing charges from others involved.
What to Expect
If you were involved in a fight, be prepared to receive a letter in the mail from a law firm stating that one of the other participants is considering pressing charges against you. That charge will likely be battery. In Florida, a simple battery (as opposed to an aggravated battery) occurs when a person:
- “Actually and intentionally touches or strikes another person against the will of the other; or
- Intentionally causes bodily harm to another person.”
Notice that either 1 or 2 can constitute battery. That means striking someone against their will, even if no bodily harm results, still qualifies as a battery.
Even simple battery is considered a first degree misdemeanor, which means that the penalty can be up to one year in jail, up to one year of a probationary sentence, or up to $1,000 in fines.
If the fight resulted in serious bodily injury or a weapon was involved, the charge can be bumped up to aggravated battery, which carries even steeper penalties.
Why You Need an Attorney
Explanations like “I didn't start the fight,” “he didn't suffer any real injuries,” and “I've never been in trouble before” may not be enough to save you from a battery charge, and ultimately time in jail.
Don't leave your fate up to a state prosecutor. Hiring an attorney to actively defend your case is necessary to fully protect yourself. Experienced criminal law attorneys can consider all of the factors and may be able to raise a defense to the battery charge. A few common defenses include:
- Lack of intent – looking back to the statutory definition of battery above, you will notice that both 1 and 2 include some form of the word intent. This means that intent is absolutely vital in order for the prosecution to go forward with the charge. If you bumping into someone or some other form of accidental contact is the root of the battery charge, your attorney can defend based on lack of intent.
- Consent – while this may not seem like a viable defense at first glance, the mutual combat theory is often used as a defense in battery situations. This theory argues that if both people willingly engaged in the fight, neither can cry lack of consent (and therefore, battery) for the contact of the other.
The experienced West Palm Beach criminal law attorneys at Farkas & Crowley can explain your options after your involvement in a fight. If you've been in a fight and think that charges may be filed or charges have already been filed against you, contact us to tell us your story. We can evaluate the best way to protect your interests – whether that includes working for dismissal of the charges or presenting the right defense.