After an evening at a favorite Reading watering hole, a person may find themself caught in an altercation. When alcohol lowers inhibitions, misunderstandings can flare into a raucous battle.
What should a person know about possible charges and consequences after a bar fight?
Possible charges after an altercation
Bar patrons should steer clear of fights as an assault charge could result. A person has the right to use self-defense to protect themselves against another individual, but a court determines whether an attack was defensive or an assault without due provocation. Since intent determines whether words and actions rise to the level of assault, a strong defense is necessary to avoid an assault conviction.
Simple assault involves a threat or harm accompanied by injury or an attempt to cause harm. The Pennsylvania Code classifies simple assault as a second-degree or third-degree misdemeanor.
In 2018, the FBI documented 328 cases of aggravated assault in the City of Reading. Aggravated assault is an offense classified as a first-degree felony in Pennsylvania. An attack can rise to the level of aggravated assault if it is a reckless or intentional attempt of causing severe bodily harm to another or any assault against a public official or employee.
Aftermath of an assault charge
Third-degree simple assault brings a fine of up to $2,500 and a year of imprisonment. Second-degree charges can double those punishments with a maximum $5,000 penalty and up to two years of prison time. Courts punish first-degree assault with 10 to 20 years of prison and up to a $25,000 fine.
A person may not avoid an unexpected attack or brawl. Citizens have the right to self-defense, so accused persons must arm themselves with a clear understanding of how to protect themselves against an assault charge.