Arrested For Assault in a Bar Fight You Didn’t Start

Minneapolis Bar Fight Criminal Defense Lawyer

It is a simple recipe as old as time. Put a lot of different people in a small space, serve alcohol, and watch someone stir emotions until a fight breaks out. Bar fights aren’t as common as they may seem in the movies, but they still do happen. When they do, a Saturday evening of fun can quickly turn into a Saturday night of wondering how many things an assault conviction will ruin in your life.
However, what happens if you didn’t actually start the fight? In fact, if you didn’t even do anything in a bar fight, you could still find yourself arrested for assault. The reality is that when violent conflicts start, the police often find it much easier to arrest everyone involved and sort out the finer details once they are contained. This means if the police arrive and you are holding someone back, you might find yourself under arrest simply by being involved.
If it can be proven by witness statements and other evidence that you started the fight and did a significant amount of physical damage to another, then it is likely you will go to trial for assault charges. However, if you did not start the fight, but did actually throw a few punches, an assault charge might not necessarily be in your future. In this regard, it all depends on both circumstance and the force used.
If you did not start the fight, your assault charges can be dropped if either of the below is true:
  • You Acted in Self-Defense – You have the right to defend yourself, and if you didn’t start the fight, self-defense can be a very valid legal defense. However, in order for it to succeed, you must have evidence to support that you believed there was a threat against you. In many instances, usually this will come in the form of witness statements from bartenders or other patrons. Furthermore, a successful self-defense claim must also mean you used an appropriate amount of force. If you commenced kicking your attacker after they were down goes above self-defense into full-on assault.
  • You Were Acting In Defense of Another – If you were not the intended victim of violence, but stepped in to defend someone else, the defense of others can act as a defense as well. If the attacker suddenly turned on you, then it also becomes a case of self-defense as well. As with self-defense, you must use appropriate force to disarm the conflict. Witnesses should also say you did indeed jump in to defend another and not just because you wanted a scrap. It is easier to pursue this defense if you were friends with the victim of the assault and it was not just some random stranger, unless they have endured a significant amount of harm that you felt they were in danger.
If any of the above were true, it is unlikely that a prosecutor will want to pursue your arrest into the courtroom for assault as you had a very valid reason for engaging in the fight. However, the only exception really in both cases is if you did significant damage to another party. It is possible to defend yourself and use too much violence to do so. Which is why if you find yourself in a fight, you always want to control how much force you use. Using too much force is a quick way to an assault charge. Furthermore, any use of a weapon will be considered assault in most circumstances.
If you have been arrested for assault in a bar fight or otherwise, regardless of if you started the conflict or not, contact us today. The Anderson Law Firm can help.

DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this article does not constitute an attorney-client relationship. Please contact attorney Kirk Anderson for an initial consultation.