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Can I Get Arrested for Getting in a Fight?

The Law Office of John Goalwin March 28, 2022

handcuffed arrested man behind prison bars. copy spaceWhen an argument between two or more people gets too heated, emotions can run high and lead to a fight. If someone who witnesses the fight calls the police, you may get arrested for the altercation, even if you were not the one who started it. Depending on the circumstances of the fight, you could face disturbing the peace, assault, or battery charges in California.

If you or someone you care about got arrested for fighting, you need to reach out to legal counsel. At The Law Office of John Goalwin, our criminal defense attorney is committed to advocating for the rights of the accused in Los Angeles and throughout California. We help clients develop personalized defense strategies and guide them through every step of the legal process. We also represent clients in Van Nuys, Torrance, Compton, Norwalk, and the rest of the state.

What Are the Possible Charges
for Fighting in California?

If the police are called, you could get arrested and face criminal charges for fighting. There are three possible charges that may arise when an individual is arrested for engaging in a physical altercation in California:

  1. Disturbing the peace. Californians can face disturbing the peace charges if they willfully get into a fight with another individual or challenge them to a fight. The prosecution must prove that the fight was in a public place in order to convict the defendant of disturbing the peace.

  2. Assault. If you attempt to use violence or physical force against another person, you can face assault charges in California. If you attempt to throw a punch at someone else but miss, you could be charged with assault as long as the prosecution can prove that you had the intent to cause harm to the alleged victim.

  3. Battery. While assault charges apply to fights in which no actual contact occurred, you can be charged with battery if the altercation involved the willful and illegal use of physical force or violence against the other person.

Any criminal charges resulting from getting in a fight in California can have life-altering consequences, including penalties ranging from fines to possible imprisonment.

Possible Penalties After an Arrest for Fighting

Penalties for criminal charges stemming from an arrest for getting in a fight in California depend on several factors, including:

  • The type of the criminal charge

  • The defendant’s criminal history

  • The circumstances of the fight

  • Whether the defendant was provoked to fight

  • Whether the fight caused bodily injuries or death

  • The extent of harm caused to the alleged victim

Depending on the fighting-related charge, you could be facing years behind bars, hefty fines, formal probation, and more. Having a conviction on your criminal record can have a life-altering impact.

Possible Defenses to Fighting

There are many possible defenses to charges resulting from fighting. The prosecution must prove several elements to secure a conviction against the defendant, which is why there may be many opportunities for mounting a defense:

  1. Self-defense. A common defense to fighting is that you were acting in self-defense. However, when asserting this defense, the defendant must prove that they were confronted with an unprovoked attack and believed it was necessary to use reasonable physical force to protect themselves from bodily injury or death.

  2. Defense of another. Besides protecting yourself, you have a right to use reasonable force to protect other persons if the attacker is threatening to inflict serious injury or cause death to the victim.

  3. Defense of property. Similarly, you have a right to use reasonable force to defend your property, including your automobile, real estate, and personal property.

  4. Provocation. Provocation is usually treated as a partial defense. It is rarely recognized by courts as an excuse to use physical force. However, depending on the circumstances of the fight, the provocation defense may be available to mitigate the penalties.

  5. Mistaken identity. Often, a person facing disturbing the peace, assault, and battery charges is not the one who committed the offense. When that is the case, the defendant can raise the “mistaken identity” defense to seek to avoid criminal charges.

If you are facing charges for getting in a fight, speak with a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney who can analyze your situation and advise you on your defense options.

How Legal Counsel Can Help

A fight can be damaging from both a physical and legal perspective. But even if you get arrested for fighting, you may still be able to avoid criminal charges. Get legal counsel from a skilled criminal defense lawyer to help you build a successful defense and seek to dismiss or reduce the charges against you. Attorney John Goalwin represents residents of Los Angeles, Torrance, and the rest of California who face fighting-related charges. Set up a consultation today.