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Consequences for Fighting in Public

Posted in Criminal Defense on September 18, 2019

Most people understand that fighting someone, whether in a public place or not, is not a good idea. Though we should all take steps to resolve differences before they reach a tipping point, there are times when tempers flare and fights break out. Fighting in public can be considered disturbing the peace, which is illegal in most states.

Fighting in Public Penalties

California Penal Code 414 is the law that covers disturbing the peace. The law covers crimes against the public peace and states the following:

Any of the following persons shall be punished by imprisonment in the county jail for a period of not more than 90 days, a fine of not more than four hundred dollars ($400), or both such imprisonment and fine:

  • Any person who unlawfully fights in a public place or challenges another person in a public place to fight.
  • Any person who maliciously and willfully disturbs another person by loud and unreasonable noise.
  • Any person who uses offensive words in a public place which are inherently likely to provoke an immediate violent reaction.

What does disturbing the peace looks like?

There are various ways in which a person could face these charges. Some of the most common examples of these charges include:

  • Starting fights in public areas such as bars, sporting events, concerts, etc.
  • Loudly playing music at a party in a residential area or purposely turning up music to annoy a neighbor.
  • Using derogatory remarks or threatening language to another person with the intention of provoking them into fighting.

What are some other consequences of this charge?

Aside from the possibility of time in jail and a fine, there are other consequences that you need to be aware of. This can include a permanent mark on your criminal record. This can seriously impact a person’s ability to get a job or maintain a current job. It can also impact a person’s ability to get into college or receive scholarships.

Then there is the personal reputation aspect of this to consider. Many areas make arrests public. Sometimes they even put them on the nightly news. This can negatively impact a person’s public reputation.

Can a person face additional charges?

Fighting in public can lead to more serious charges in California. In fact, disturbing the peace charges are often attached to assault and battery charges.

A person can be charged with assault when they threaten violence in a manner that would cause a reasonable person to feel afraid. You do not actually have to strike someone to be charged with assault. A person facing assault charges can face up to six months in jail, a fine of up to $1,000, or a combination of fines and jail time.

A person can face battery charges if the threat of assault turns into actual physical contact. A person charged with battery can face up to six months in jail, a $2,000 fine, or a combination of fines and jail time. If the battery is committed against a police officer, firefighter, EMT, or other types of public servants, a person can face felony charges with stiffer penalties.

Next time you are in a situation where a fight could break out, consider the consequences listed above. If you or a loved one have been charged with fighting in public, seek legal assistance from a local criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible.