The Consequences of Starting a Fight

For the most part, people understand that starting fight with someone is a bad idea, especially in public. However, sometimes tempers flare, and a person doesn’t always make the best decisions. If a person gets into a fight in a public area, they can face legal consequences. Fighting, or disturbing the peace, is illegal in most states, including California.

California Penal Code 415 is more commonly referred to as disturbing the peace. Just about everyone has heard about this law. It is referenced all of the time in movies and television. Penal Code 415 is a broad law that covers everything from starting fights to, well, disturbing the peace.

Some examples of behavior that violates this law include:

  • Starting fights in public areas such as bars or sporting arenas.
  • Pointing outdoor speakers at neighboring property and turning the volume up in order to annoy the neighbor.
  • Using derogatory terms or threatening language against another person to provoke them into fighting.

If a person does any of these things, then they can face legal consequences.

Breaking Penal Code 415 is a misdemeanor offense and can earn a person any of the following penalties:

  • Up to 90 days in jail.
  • A max fine of $400.
  • Some combination of fines and jail time.

Fighting in public, can earn a person additional charges as well, such as assault and battery. A person can assault another person when they threaten violence in a way that the victim would naturally feel afraid. Battery occurs when the threat of assault is followed through. Once that occurs, a person can be charged with Penal Code 242. Battery is a wobbler offense in California, which means it can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony.

The misdemeanor penalties for breaking Penal Code 242 include:

  • Up to 6 months in jail.
  • A max fine of $2,000.
  • Some combination of jail time and a fine.

The penalties for battery could be added onto the disturbing the peace charges, making them much worse.

Basically, this all adds up to the fact that it isn’t worth it to start a fight with anyone. It is often in everyone’s best interest to just walk away when tempers start to flare up.

Once everyone has gone their separate ways, they will be able to calm down and be thankful that they aren’t facing criminal charges for disturbing the peace.