You had a few too many drinks at the bar, and somebody made you mad. Maybe you were just trying to watch the game, and a rowdy fan got in your way one time too many. Or maybe you weren’t the aggressor at all—just a victim of another patron’s anger. Whatever caused it, you wound up in a fight, and the bartender called the police. Now you are facing criminal charges, and you don’t know what to do next. Can you talk your way out of it? Will the charges actually stick? Do you need a lawyer?
Yes, You Need a Lawyer After a Bar Fight Arrest in Virginia
We’ll make this easy—anytime you are facing criminal charges, you need a lawyer. Too much is at stake to risk not getting the best defense representation you can afford. When it comes to a bar fight, you could be facing one of several charges, each more serious than the next. Only with a skilled defender on your side can you hope for the best possible outcome. This could mean getting the charges dropped completely, getting them reduced to a lesser charge, or arguing for the most lenient sentence possible. It is essential that you call a lawyer as soon as you are given an opportunity to do so.
What You Could Be Charged With After a Bar Fight
When police respond to a call about a bar fight, they have the discretion to arrest anyone involved. Depending on the circumstances surrounding the fight, you could be charged with the following:
- Intoxication in public. If no one was hurt and you did not cause a disruption in the bar, but you were obviously intoxicated, you could be charged with public intoxication. This is a Class 4 misdemeanor and carries a fine of up to $250. Despite the lenient penalty, you will have a criminal record if you are convicted.
- Disorderly conduct in public. If no one was hurt and you were not obviously intoxicated, but your fight disrupted other patrons in the bar, you might be charged with disorderly conduct. As a Class 1 misdemeanor, you could face a jail sentence of up to 12 months and/or a fine of up to $2500.
- Assault. The Code of Virginia allows for a variety of different levels of assault charges, from simple assault to aggravated malicious wounding. If you used anything that can be construed as a weapon, such as a beer bottle, pocketknife, or drinking glass, you could be facing felony charges.
- Manslaughter. If the person you fought with died as a result of their injuries, you could face manslaughter or even murder charges. Manslaughter can be charged as either involuntary—meaning the death was entirely accidental or voluntary—meaning there was intent to harm. These are felony charges that will lead to time in prison.
Your defense attorney will want to know exactly what happened during the fight in order to build the best possible defense. Mitigating factors include who started the fight, whether self-defense played a role, how much alcohol you consumed, whether property damage to the bar occurred, what witnesses have to say, and more. The goal is to avoid a conviction if at all possible, but, barring that outcome, your attorney will fight to reduce the penalties you face.
An Experienced Defense Attorney Can Make All the Difference
The biggest mistake innocent people make is thinking their innocence will become clear once they tell their story. However, if you were hauled in after a bar fight, it’s doubtful that the police want to hear your story. The biggest mistake guilty people make is thinking a lawyer won’t be able to do anything for them. Again, this is not the case.
It is important that you contact a criminal defense attorney right away. Doing so does not make you look more guilty. Instead, it protects you from a worst-case scenario. If you have been charged with a crime, contact us online or call our office at 757-410-5042.