Look, I totally get it. That guy should never have dropped his flaming gorilla shot on your vintage Danner boots and set your skinny jeans on fire. The resulting brawl was inevitable, because he had it coming.

But so are the criminal charges you’re now facing.

You might be thinking to yourself, “It’s just a bar fight, right? I don’t really need a bar fight lawyer for that.” Wrong. Before things get even more out of control, here are some points to consider regarding the possible charges you face.

Assault

You’ve no doubt heard of “assault and battery” – words every cop show on television loves to throw around. In Maryland, they cut right to the chase and include “assault, battery, and assault and battery” under the term “assault,” so there’s no differentiation between the terms. It comes in two flavors for your viewing pleasure:

First Degree. Unlike burns, when it comes to criminal charges, first degree is the worst. It’s a felony. You could wind up in the slammer for the next quarter of a century. But what is first degree assault? Intentionally causing or attempting to cause serious physical injury to that jerk – even though he started it – will get you there. “Serious physical injury” is generally something permanent, like pummeling his kidneys till his donor card is a moot point.

Second Degree. This is only a misdemeanor. That’s not a big deal, right? Only if you don’t mind spending up to the next ten years in prison. No biggie.

Other Possible Charges

Reckless Endangerment. If your manly exploits at Club Dread included “conduct that creates a substantial risk of death or serious physical injury to another,” like plowing your car through the crowd to get out of the parking lot in a hurry, you may also rack up another misdemeanor that could land you in jail for five years, along with a fine of up to $5,000.

Gun Violations. Oh, no, you didn’t! Seriously, because if you did, guess what? Packing while drunk is another misdemeanor that carries up to one year in jail and a $1,000 fine. Even if you’re licensed to carry. And if you were delusional enough to think it’d be cool to fire off a few rounds to show Flaming Gorilla Boy “who da man?!” as you made your escape in the parking lot, see above under “reckless endangerment” for some more charges that can be piled on.

The Bottom Line

No matter who started it or if you’re in the right, bar fights can land you in serious trouble. Period.

Here’s the good news: The scenario leading up to a fight is often subject to multiple interpretations, and there may be a number of defenses available to you. A good lawyer knows how to use the facts to your advantage. An attorney is your best chance of getting your charges dropped or reduced so you can live to fight another day.