December 18, 2007 10:58 AM   Subscribe

Will I go to jail if I punch somebody in the face?
posted by plexi to Law & Government (20 answers total)

This post was deleted for the following reason: You might want to try again with a lot more detail on the context if you want a useful answer rather than a bull session on face-punchery in general. -- cortex

Depends. Did they punch you first?
posted by BitterOldPunk at 10:59 AM on December 18, 2007

It happens all the time, but it might not happen to you. OJ Simpson killed someone and he didn't go to jail. YMMV.
posted by found missing at 10:59 AM on December 18, 2007

posted by cloeburner at 11:00 AM on December 18, 2007

Maybe. Will they report it? Are you protecting yourself?
posted by the christopher hundreds at 11:00 AM on December 18, 2007 [1 favorite]

Punching someone in the face is assault (or battery, depending on state) and it is a crime punishable by jail time. However, most DA won't push for jail time for a single punch. You would also be civilly liable. Check with your lawyer before you punch this person in the face.
posted by Pastabagel at 11:02 AM on December 18, 2007 [1 favorite]

You'll at least spend time in jail when they first arrest you, prior to you getting a lawyer and being arraigned.
posted by lockestockbarrel at 11:04 AM on December 18, 2007

You will go to jail for a longer period of time, if the punchee's lawyer finds out your MeFi pseudonym and this AskMe post, as it'll be a premeditated act.
posted by davejay at 11:06 AM on December 18, 2007

If you want to make it a sure thing, punch a cop.

If you want to avoid it, sign up for an amateur boxing tournament.

Oh, but you had a specific person you wanted to punch? Then, yeah, it depends.
posted by nebulawindphone at 11:07 AM on December 18, 2007 [2 favorites]

Where are you going to be when you punch them? I think not if here, possibly yes if somewhere with laws protecting citizens from battery.
posted by studentbaker at 11:12 AM on December 18, 2007

If you can get him/her into a good mosh pit, chances are slim. If you walk up to him/her in front of a video camera, chances are better.
posted by nomisxid at 11:13 AM on December 18, 2007 [1 favorite]

If you punched me in the face, I would do everything in my power to get you as severely punished as possible. I would report you to the police; I would hire a lawyer to sue you; etc.

I do not accept "getting punched in the face" as just a part of life. It's totally unacceptable to me.

I would not accept an apology.

So I recommend against punching someone like me in the face.
posted by grumblebee at 11:14 AM on December 18, 2007 [2 favorites]

Find out and let us know.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 11:14 AM on December 18, 2007

Scotland, UK: You could get charged with Assault which is a Common Law offence.

To direct an attack to take effect physically on the person of another, whether or not actual injury is inflicted. There must be criminal intent, an accidental injury does not amount to assault. It is not however necessary that the attack should take effect. An assault can be direct or indirect, e.g. setting a dog at another person. It is also assault to be violently menacing. Threatening gestures inducing a state of bodily fear are an example. An assault may be aggravated by intent; mode of perpetration (e.g. use of a weapon), extent of injury, place of assault, or the character of the person assaulted (e.g. a pregnant woman). Indecent assault is an assault accompanied by indecent intent. In certain cases an assault may be justified by showing that it was done under the authority of the law; in defence of others or in self-defence.

Maximum sentence is 3 years.

You'd probably get a Breach of the Peace charge thrown in for good measure
posted by brautigan at 11:20 AM on December 18, 2007

Check with your lawyer before you punch this person in the face.

Best AskMe advice ever.

As others have said, it's all about context and provocation.
posted by rokusan at 11:30 AM on December 18, 2007

This depends. I think that, if you set it up right, you can get away with just about anything.

I punched a cop in the face on Halloween, having only spoken to him for about 15 minutes. (He was out of uniform at the time.) But it was okay; he agreed to the punch ahead of time and he ended up getting a chance to punch me back.

It depends on your ability to talk yourself into and out of various situations.
posted by JeremiahBritt at 11:33 AM on December 18, 2007

If you punch someone in the face, you can get charged, for sure. If you punch someone in the face, alone, with no witnesses and NOT in a bar, store, restaurant or other such place where you can be ejected or arrested on the business' behalf, you stand a much better chance of not facing a lot of consequences.

Ideal punch-in-the-face-without-going-to-jail scenario: It's late. You are approached by a disgusting derelict of some kind who tries to mug you. You punch him in the face and run away. It's probably never going to catch up with you.

However, you might do better just getting some tear gas or pepper spray. You have a better chance of getting away then and the person isn't as likely to retaliate, plus it's harder to miss your target.

I have punched someone in the face and public and didn't go to jail; I even broke her glasses clean off her face. However, I was not welcome in that bar for a long time.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 11:33 AM on December 18, 2007

The answer is "it depends on the context." Clearly, there is punching someone in the face where it's assault, and punching someone in the face where it's self defense.

There's also, in some places, a legal recognition of "mutual combat," where two people essentially agree to fight. As in, "Let's go outside and settle this" and both parties agree, or a fight where the aggressor is unclear and/or neither party makes any reasonable attempt to stop. The legal ramifications get pretty hazy when mutual combat is concerned.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:35 AM on December 18, 2007

Are you a professional boxer in a boxing ring?
By punch, do you mean "not punch"?
Are your fingers made of delicious jello?
Are there any bears, 5 year olds, or zombies involved?
posted by blue_beetle at 11:36 AM on December 18, 2007 [1 favorite]

If you are in a sanctioned boxing match as one of the boxers, you are less likely to be arrested and incarcerated than if you walk up to a police officer and punch him/her in the face.
posted by The World Famous at 11:36 AM on December 18, 2007

I got punched in the face in the Viper Room and I am pretty certain the puncher did not go to jail.
posted by clarkie666 at 11:36 AM on December 18, 2007

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