CO Bar Fight: Who Started It?

Bar fights can really put a damper on the fun you’re out having, especially when you or someone in your party is involved. Additionally, there are legal consequences that many people don’t think about in the heat of the moment.

In Colorado, if a person gets injured in a bar fight, the individual who inflicted the injury can get arrested for assault. The court will consider who threw the first punch and their reasoning, but there’s no guarantee that the answer to either of these questions will get you out of trouble.

Here’s what you need to know about the possible criminal consequences of a bar fight in Colorado and the legal trouble it can cause you.

Assault in Colorado

Perhaps the biggest pressing criminal issue in relation to a bar fight is that it can result in someone getting charged with assault in the state. There are several degrees of assault in Colorado. They are:

First Degree

First-degree assault occurs when someone causes serious bodily injury to another person with a deadly weapon such as a knife, a gun, or an object that can cause harm – like a glass bottle. The injuries sustained by the victim need to be serious in order to qualify for first-degree assault. Examples of what the court considers to be serious bodily injuries include:

  • Amputation
  • A broken bone
  • 2nd or 3rd degree burns
  • Permanent damage to a body organ or part
  • Permanent disability of a body organ or part
  • Destruction of a body organ or part

If the victim’s injuries meet this measure, the person who caused them can be found guilty of a Class 3 felony. If you are convicted of a 1st Degree Assault, the judge is required to sentence you to prison for a minimum of 10 years, and up to 32 years, along with a potential fine for as much as $750,000.

Second Degree

Second-degree assault in Colorado occurs when a person is injured by means of a deadly weapon or someone suffer serious bodily injury but a deadly weapon was not used.  It is a Class 4 felony. A conviction here would also require a mandatory prison sentence, with a potential range of 4 to 16 years in prison, along with a potential fine of as much as $500,000.

Colorado Springs Assault Lawyer

It’s important to note that in either case, how the fight began can impact sentencing. If the injured person provoked the attack, a lesser sentence could result.

Self-Defense in Colorado

You may want to explain to the court that your actions were merely in self-defense. In Colorado, you must show you had a reasonable belief that you were facing imminent harm, you had to use force for defense, and that the amount of force you used was justified to prevent harm.

If you started the fight, however, you can only use the self-defense argument if:

  • You withdrew from the fight
  • You communicated to the other person you intended to do so
  • The other person continued to attack you

If these things occur, you are now in the position where you are the victim and forced to defend yourself.

You should note that you cannot provoke the fight and use self-defense. Even if you didn’t harm that other person first, if you provoke them, the court will not view your actions as self-defense.

Additionally, if you agree to fight with another person, you can’t claim self-defense. Any actions you took once you agreed to fight no longer make you a victim and nullify the court’s belief you may have been acting in self-defense.

What Should You Do?

If you get charged with assault for a bar fight, you first need to try to stay calm. This may be a challenge if you’re in fight or flight mode, but it’s vital to cooperate with any police at the scene. You may not be arrested until later, which is an unsettling experience. In the aftermath of a bar fight, simply try to refrain from making any statements to police that could incriminate you later – call a lawyer as soon as you can.

While you must cooperate with police, it’s necessary to assert your rights, including the right to remain silent. You do not have to explain everything that happened to them until your lawyer is present. Don’t find more trouble with police by acting belligerent or rude, but calmly assert your rights that all Americans have under the Constitution.

Criminal Defense Attorneys Colorado SPrings

If you’ve been in a bar fight and are facing assault charges in Colorado, then make sure to contact an attorney with experience in criminal matters such as these to help guide you through your case.


About the Author:

Andrew Bryant is a well-respected Colorado Springs criminal attorney who has been practicing in the area for years. A Colorado native, he returned to the home he loves after graduating from the University of Kentucky College of Law. Now, he uses the knowledge he gained as an El Paso County District Attorney to fight tirelessly for his clients’ rights. He is AV-Preeminent rated, has been recognized for his work by The National Trial Lawyers, and has been named to Best of the Springs lists by The Gazette for years.