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Can Getting in a Fight Lead to an Arrest? 

Law Offices of Andrew C. Janecki Oct. 21, 2022

Policeman Arrests a Person on RoadRoad rage, bar fights, and disagreements between friends can quickly turn violent. What may have started as a simple argument can easily become physical. But can getting into a fight lead to an arrest?  

Be prepared by learning about the potential consequences of a fight and your legal options. As a well-informed criminal defense attorney with a passion for helping people in difficult situations, I will answer your questions and help you build a strong legal defense. I have over 20 years of experience helping my clients seek the best possible outcome for their future. At my firm, the Law Offices of Andrew C. Janecki, I represent clients in Santa Cruz, California, Palo Alto, San Jose, San Francisco, and Berkeley. 

Arrested for Fighting in California 

When someone is arrested for fighting in California, they may face three types of charges, disturbing the peace, disorderly conduct, or assault. The type of charge will depend on where the fight took place and how serious the fight was, taking into account any injuries that were sustained. 

In general, disturbing the peace charges can be brought for unlawful fighting in a public place. Similarly, disorderly conduct charges can be brought for engaging in lewd or dissolute conduct in any public place or any place open to public view.  

Assault charges are the most serious of the three. Assault is defined as an intentional act that either does harm another person or causes that person to be in fear of immediate bodily harm. Speak with a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney to learn more about what type of charges might be brought into your situation. 

Possible Defenses 

In the legal system, you or your attorney will have the opportunity to present a defense for the charges against you. There are several common defenses used when someone is arrested for fighting and faces disorderly conduct charges or assault charges.   


In many situations, the reason why one person engaged in the fight was to protect themselves from the person who was trying to fight or who was actively fighting them. When this happens, it is clear that the reason the defendant chose to fight was out of self-defense. 

Defense of Others 

Similarly, sometimes an individual may choose to fight in order to protect someone. Defense of others, or protecting others, is a solid legal defense for someone who was arrested for fighting. 


A situation might arise where one individual, usually speaking in an insulting way, provokes another into becoming physical. If you were provoked into fighting, you may be able to use that fact as your legal defense. Consult with a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney to learn more. 

Defense of Property 

When someone threatens your property, you may take action and do whatever it takes to protect what belongs to you. In this situation, defense of property may be used as a valid legal defense for fighting. 

Possible Penalties 

The penalties for disturbing the peace, disorderly conduct charges, and assault charges will vary depending on the crime. While disturbing the peace and disorderly conduct are typically categorized as misdemeanors, assault charges can be categorized as a felony. Penalties for these charges range from completing a program, performing community service, and paying a fine, to more serious penalties such as jail or prison time. 

Skilled & Compassionate Advocacy 

If you were arrested for fighting or you think you may be, the situation can feel overwhelming. A fight that only took minutes could impact the rest of your life. Be confident that you are doing everything you can to protect your future by working with a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney.  

I understand how difficult it can be to stand up to the legal system, especially if you have never been charged with a crime before. I enjoy helping people through some of life’s most challenging situations.  

I have practiced law in the Santa Cruz area for over 20 years, and I’m proud to bring my comprehensive skills to each of my client's cases. My firm, the Law Offices of Andrew C. Janecki, serves clients in Santa Cruz, California, Palo Alto, San Jose, San Francisco, and Berkeley. Contact my firm today to schedule a free consultation.