There’s nothing wrong with enjoying a night out at the bar once in a while. Unfortunately, alcohol tends to encourage people to act a little rowdy — and it doesn’t take much for a bar fight to start. Maybe you were the person who got out of control, or maybe you were just responding to someone else’s provocations. Either way, it got ugly, the police were called, and you know you’re in trouble.

So what happens next? Here are some possibilities:

  1. You can face simple assault charges.

If you threw a punch or hit someone with a can of beer, you might expect this. However, you can also be charged with simple assault for merely credibly threatening someone with bodily injury, as well. Even the act of poking someone in the chest with your finger to make your point (without actually making a verbal threat) could count as “offensive or provocative” contact, and that’s also assault.

  1. You could face aggravated assault charges.

Simple assault is often treated as a misdemeanor (although they can be felonies depending on the circumstances and the identity of the alleged victim). While that’s bad enough, your situation worsens if you’re charged with aggravated assault instead. If someone was seriously injured or you grabbed a weapon during the fight, that knocks the charges up to a felony.

  1. You could face a civil lawsuit.

Don’t be surprised if the alleged victim in your case sues for damages, including hospital bills and lost wages. For that matter, you could also end up sued by the bar’s owner for any losses to their property. While any civil lawsuit would be separate from your criminal case, pleading guilty or being convicted in your criminal case would make it very difficult to prevail against the financial claims.

If you’ve been in a bar fight, find out what steps you need to take to best protect your future.