Michigan Bar Fight Legal Advice

Alcohol affects an individual’s behavior. One beer, or cocktail may cause a person to feel relaxed. However, as the number of drinks increase, so do the effects on the brain. The results vary and may include silliness, happiness, sloppiness, memory problems, impaired judgment, and slurred speech.

Perhaps, one of the most dangerous consequences occurs in people who become violent when drunk. The increase in violent behavior is a direct result of a loss of inhibitions.

So, alcohol intoxication may cause a person to act impulsively and overreact to various situations. This impairment in judgment can also lead to someone making other poor decisions such as driving under the influence of alcohol.

Can a Bar Fight Lead to Criminal Charges?

Car Keys on a table next to several beer cans and a red cup, symbolizing a DUI

Yes. If you are involved in a bar fight you may be charged with assault. Bar altercations start for hundreds of reasons. Generally speaking, many fights begin with a misunderstanding. Perhaps, one guy thought another man was trying to flirt with his girlfriend. Jealousy often leads to angry words, pushes, shoves, and fist fights. Other times, simple arguments get heated and fists start flying. When this happens, bouncers at bars and nightclubs should quickly “break up” the fight.

If any party receives injuries, someone may face criminal penalties. Michigan Law 750.81 states that any person who assaults and batters an individual is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for not more than 93 days or a fine of not more than $500.00, or both. Of course, if weapons are involved then perpetrators are charged with felonies.

Weapons include bottles, chairs, guns, knives, and others. Felony convictions lead to stiffer penalties. In fact, you may be sentenced for up to 15 years in prison.  Since each case is different, it remains vital to speak to a criminal defense attorney as soon as you are arrested.

What Should I Do if I Am Involved in a Bar Fight?

The number one concern is your safety and health. So, if you are injured go to the nearest emergency room or call 911 if necessary. Keep all medical records. Second, call a criminal defense attorney. An experienced attorney will advise you how to proceed. Third, you, or your attorney will need to contact the establishment where the altercation took place. Finally, talk to anyone that was with you and see if they took any video or pictures during the fight. Any ocular evidence may assist in your legal defense. Of course, if law enforcement was called and you landed in jail, your first course of action would be to call your attorney.

Who Is Liable for Bar Fight Injuries?

Every bar fight is different. Some are minor scuffles with no injuries. Others involve unintentional injuries and some cause permanent injury, or death. Often these “battles” last under a minute. Still, finding which party is legally responsible remains quite complicated. The following parties may be liable for injuries sustained in a bar fight:

  • You- If you started a fight you may be responsible. Adults are expected to control their tempers even when someone tries to provoke you. Also, if you push someone too hard and they hit their head and end up with a serious injury, you may be liable.
  • Person who attacked you- If you were attacked and had to defend yourself, you need a defense attorney. The person who attacked you may be arrested, charged, and eventually convicted.
  • Everyone involved in the fight- Sometimes everyone is charged that assaulted others.
  • Bar or nightclub owner- If a business owner served alcohol to an overly drunk patron, that owner may face charges.

Michigan Dram Shop Law

Excerpt of the Michigan Liquor Control Code of 1998 Businesses serving alcohol may be liable for bar fight injuries only if they broke the law. Michigan State Law prohibits:

  • Serving alcohol to a minor
  • Serving alcohol to an obviously intoxicated person

If an establishment breaks either of the two laws listed above and a person is injured in a bar fight as a direct result of that negligence, the bar is liable. Naturally, owners aren’t responsible for every injury that occurs on their property. However, they do have a responsibility to protect patrons.