Bar Fights and Their Possible Criminal Charges

Bar fight charges.

Bar Fights and Their Possible Criminal Charges

While spending a night out at one of the many bars in Arizona can be an enjoyable way to spend leisure time, the combination of too much alcohol, lowered inhibitions, and crowded spaces can result in criminal offenses with serious consequences.

Bar fights can result in both misdemeanor and felony charges, depending on the nature of what was involved in the fight. The most common charges resulting from bar fights are assault and disorderly conduct.


Assault is defined in A.R.S. 13-1203 is the intentional, knowing, or reckless infliction of harm, fear, or provocation on another person.

Assault as charged under these terms can range from a class 1 to a class 3 misdemeanor, with the potential of up to six months of incarceration for the most serious of these offenses.

However, assault can be classified as felony aggravated assault if the bar fight involved serious physical injury, disfigurement, or impairment of another person, assaulting a law enforcement officer, or using a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument, such as a knife or gun.

As stated in A.R.S. 13-1204, these aggravated assault examples can be charged as felonies, with the most serious offenses resulting in incarceration of up to 12.5 years for a first-time offender.

Disorderly Conduct

As written in A.R.S. 13-2904, disorderly conduct encompasses disruptive or offensive behaviors, such as fighting, excessive noise, or abusive language, intended to disturb the peace or provoke immediate physical retaliation. Examples often cited in bar fights include:

  • Engaging in fighting, violent, or seriously disruptive behavior.
  • Makin unreasonable noise.
  • Using abusive or offensive language or gestures in a way that could provoke immediate physical retaliation.
  • Creating protracted commotion, utterance, or display with the intent to disrupt lawful gatherings.
  • Recklessly handling or discharging a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument.

When disorderly conduct involves a weapon, the offender can be charged with a class 6 felony, resulting in up to 2 years of incarceration for a first-time offender.

Typically, disorderly conduct is a class 1 misdemeanor, the most serious of misdemeanor charges, which can result in incarceration of up to six months.

Additional Charges

In addition to assault and disorderly conduct, individuals involved in bar fights may also find themselves charged with, among others:

  • Criminal Damage – if the bar fight caused damage to bar property.
  • DUI – if an intoxicated individual drives home following a bar fight.
  • Failure to Comply – if an individual refuses to cooperate with a police officer called to the scene of the bar fight.
  • False Reporting – if the offenders lie to, or mislead, police officers .

Arizona Areas Prone to Bar Fights

The following locations in Arizona have a tendency to be home to a larger proportion of bar fights in the state:

  • Old Town Scottsdale
  • Tucson’s Fourth Avenue bar area near the University of Arizona
  • Tempe’s Mill Avenue

Typically, areas that have multiple bars concentrated along the same few streets, such as those areas known for nightlife or catering to college-aged students, will be more prone to bar fights. Such setups allow for “bar hopping” or “bar crawling,” in which individuals, often in groups, are able to walk from bar to bar to partake in further drinking. In these situations, binge drinking becomes more common, and those involved will have increasingly lower levels of inhibition as they move from bar to bar. These circumstances are often the root of many bar fights in which law enforcement becomes involved.



With offices in Lake Havasu City and Scottsdale, our firm serves the entire state of Arizona, with a particular focus on criminal defense, family law, and juvenile cases.

Our goal is for the best outcome for your criminal case, which can include:

  • charges that are reduced or dropped.
  • top experts reviewing your case.
  • aggressive negotiations with the prosecution for plea bargains.
  • fines or probation in lieu of jail time.

At Rideout Law Group, our attorneys are able to expertly examine the evidence in your case to provide a strong strategy for argument that leads to an outcome that is most favorable to you. We have experience in all types of criminal cases for both adults and juveniles, with positive outcomes both in plea negotiations as well as jury trial settings.

Call us today for a free consultation at 480-584-3328.

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