Sometimes things get out of hand after people have had a few drinks. What starts as a misunderstanding over a girl could end up with you spending the night in a police cell to “cool off” after things got out of hand, regardless of whether you did anything wrong or not.
Yet, waking up chilled might not be the end of it. A disagreement in a bar could end up with you facing criminal charges of assault or battery.
Assault and battery are not the same things under Californian law
Battery requires you to have made physical contact. Assault does not. You merely need to have attempted to harm someone.
Both charges can result in jail time and a fine. Prosecutors could pursue more severe offenses with stiffer penalties where the other person was someone in the public service such as a police officer or firefighter. The alleged use of a weapon could also lead to more severe consequences.
How can you defend against assault or battery charges?
Acting in self-defense or the defense of others is perhaps the most obvious line of defense. Yet, it will only work if a court considers your reaction reasonable. If someone pulls out a gun and you punch them, you have a chance of claiming self-defense. If someone slaps you and you pull out an AK-47, less so.
Another option is to claim it was unintentional. If you spin around on your barstool to see who was poking you in the back, you might have accidentally caught them in the face with your elbow.
Finally, you could claim they got the wrong person. If several people were involved in a bar scuffle, your accuser might be unable to distinguish where a punch came from.
It is crucial to understand what actions to take if the police arrest you. You need to avoid making your situation worse, then look at the options to construct a defense against criminal charges.