It’s the weekend and you and a few friends are having a night out. You’re enjoying a little bar hopping when things between you and another bar patron become heated. You exchange words, maybe you shove them, maybe even throw a fist. It’s a bar, it happens all the time, right? Before you know it, you see flashing lights and are in handcuffs.

It comes as a surprise to many people that even a little scuffle in a bar, something as minor as throwing one punch can lead to felony charges and time spent in prison. This is a breakdown of how the law views a barroom scrap.

You can be charged without even touching someone

Oftentimes a person can be charged with assault without so much as laying a finger on someone. Assault occurs when an individual threatens to harm another and shows that they have the ability to do so. For example, saying “I will punch you in the face,” and cocking your fist will likely result in at least a misdemeanor assault charge.

Charges stack up when things get physical

Most people have heard of “assault and battery” charges; that is what happens when someone makes good on their threat and intentionally hurts the other person. Assault does not always accompany battery charges however. When someone inflicts substantial injuries battery charges jump from a misdemeanor to a felony.

When substantial battery comes into play

When someone suffers substantial injuries, then the battery charge become a felony. Someone will face these charges if they cause the other person to suffer:

  • Cuts that require stitches, staples or tissue adhesive
  • Broken bones, including a broken nose
  • Lost or fractured teeth
  • Ruptured blood vessels
  • Concussion
  • Temporary loss of consciousness, sight or hearing

Anyone familiar with fighting knows how easy it is for a single well-placed punch to accomplish any of those injuries. The moment it does, and the battery charge jumps to a felony, the attacker can face up to 3 and a half years in prison and thousands of dollars in fines.

Just one punch can land a person behind bars for a long time. If you find yourself on the receiving end of an assault and/or battery charge, then there is no time to waste. Speak to a skilled criminal defense attorney right away. They will help you create an effective case and preserve your future.