If you’ve been involved in a bar fight in Florida you may have committed a crime and face severe penalties. Bar fights are not uncommon, especially in Pinellas County. But that doesn’t make them any less serious.
There are various different charges for bar fight crimes and all will require the experienced support of a Florida criminal defense attorney.
Types of Charges for Bar Fight Crimes
If you make a ‘breach of the peace’, you could be charged with disorderly conduct.
Florida Statute 877.03 describes disorderly conduct as “corrupting the public morals,” “outraging the sense of public decency,” or “affecting the peace and quiet of persons.”
This law was made to improve conduct in public places, such as outside bars and in the streets.
If your bar fight spilled over and took place outside the bar, you could be charged with disorderly conduct for fighting in public.
Even if there were no injuries sustained, you could still face a 2nd-degree misdemeanor as you were having the fight in public – putting the safety and peace of others at risk.
If the fight qualifies as a ‘riot’, it could result in a felony prosecution. This serious charge can call for years in prison and eye-watering fines.
Common examples of disorderly conduct in bar fights include:
- Fighting or brawling
- Aggressive behavior
- Threatening others
- Harassing others
- Inciting a riot
- Obstructing traffic
Similarly, disorderly intoxication doesn’t have to see you actually hurt someone in a fight. If you were drunk and endangered the safety of others or property, then you could still be charged with disorderly intoxication.
Assault charges are for an intentional threat of harm that leads to another person’s fear of imminent harm.
For example, if you started the fight and the person you fought felt like they were inevitably going to get harmed then you could be charged with assault.
You could also be charged with assault if you threaten to hurt someone in the bar without any violence following.
- 2nd-degree misdemeanor, with a $500 fine and up to 60 days jail time.
- Aggravated assault: 3rd-degree felony, with a $5,000 fine and up to a 5 years prison sentence.
If you did make physical contact during the bar fight, then you could be charged with battery. All that needs to be proven is that physical contact occurred against the person’s will.
This makes it a common charge for bar fights in Florida. If this is relevant to your scenario, you should contact an assault and battery attorney as soon as possible.
Battery usually occurs with assault before it, but it can happen without. For example, if you punched someone in the back of the head then it would be battery only, as no assault occurred (they were never threatened).
- 1st-degree misdemeanor, with a fine of $1,000 and jail time of a maximum of 1 year.
If you intended to cause serious bodily injury to someone during the bar fight in Florida, then you could be charged with aggravated battery.
The sentence could be even more severe if you used a deadly weapon such as a bottle or knife.
If you are facing these charges, you must contact a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to fight to minimize the charges.
- 2nd-degree felony punishable with up to a $10,000 fine and up to 15 years in prison.
If you killed the person you were fighting, then you could be charged with voluntary manslaughter – a type of homicide.
This charge is for an intentional homicide committed in the middle of a provocation. This charge usually covers temporary anger or rage that results in the intent to kill another person.
Although not common, this crime is sadly occasionally seen in bar fights that spiral out of control.
If a bar fight in Florida gets out of control and you accidentally kill the other person then you may be charged with involuntary manslaughter.
For example, if you pushed someone away from you with no intention of causing serious injury and they fell over and hit their head on a wall, killing them – then this would be a case of involuntary manslaughter.
Defenses for Bar Fight Crimes
If you’ve committed a bar fight crime and are facing any of the charges above, then you should take them very seriously.
In many cases, the most realistic expectation will be to minimize the penalties. A criminal defense attorney’s experience and legal expertise can help you to prepare a case that can reduce your penalties or prove your innocence.
Defenses for bar fight crimes include:
The First Amendment
If you’re being charged for disorderly conduct, then words alone may not be enough for a conviction.
The First Amendment to the United States Constitution protects all forms of free speech, including profanity. However, if you threatened or endangered the public then this is a difficult defense to use.
Self-defense may apply if you didn’t start the fight and is commonly seen in bar fights in Florida. Perhaps someone threatened you first or started swinging punches your way and you acted in self-defense. If this was the case, then there may be a way to get the case dismissed.
You Didn’t Endanger The Public.
There must be evidence that you actually caused a breach of peace and endangered the public. For example, by threatening people, blocking traffic or throwing objects
Many cases have been dropped if the defendant was simply shouting or defending themselves verbally.
Judges may take leniency on defendants that are working to improve their drinking habits. If you know you drank too much which led to disorderly intoxication, then you need to set yourself apart from the rest – for example, by going to an AA meeting or a counselor.
Bar Fight Criminal Defense Attorney in Pinellas County, FL
If you want to fight a bar fight crime charge in Florida, you must contact a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. We have had very good success over the years in reducing charges, minimizing penalties, getting cases dismissed and protecting futures.
Sean McQuaid is a top-rated criminal defense attorney in Pinellas County. He is the President of the St. Petersburg Bar Association, a group of 1,100 lawyers and judges in the area. He is the managing partner at Battaglia, Ross, Dicus & McQuaid, P.A., one of Tampa Bay’s most prestigious law firms with the reputation and connections to make things happen.
With decades of experience helping people like you, we believe there is no better place to help you fight or reduce a bar fight crime charge in Florida.
Contact us today for a free consultation to get started or CALL (727) 381-2300