The term “assault” is used to define offenses that involve threatening, fighting, and injuring another person. Assault is a criminal violation in Arizona that can land you in jail if you’re convicted. Because any assault allegation has the power to harm your life, finding legal counsel that can protect you against these kinds of accusations is imperative. For a brief overview of assault in Arizona, please read below.
If you or somebody close to you has been charged with an assault in Arizona, it is critical to hire an experienced attorney who will fight for you. Here at the Ryan Garvey Attorneys, our lawyers have years of experience defending assault cases across Arizona. Also, our head Attorneyis certified by the State Bar of Arizona as a professional in criminal law and has over 20 years of experience in handling assault cases. In addition, the lawyers at the Ryan Garvey Attorneys have handled numerous assault cases in many different counties across the state. We are aggressive at mounting defenses and strategies to help you fight assault allegations. For a free, 30-minute initial consultation, give us a call at 602-296-3434.
In the state of Arizona, a person commits an assault as defined in A.R.S. §13-1203 when they do one of three things:
Arizona law outlines three main classifications of simple assault, which are known as:
As mentioned above, when a person intentionally or knowingly causes any physical injury to the victim, they can be charged with the highest level of assault under the statute, which is a class 1 misdemeanor offense. Also, if the person acted recklessly and caused any physical injury to the victim, they can be charged with assault as a class 2 misdemeanor offense.
But what does “any physical injury” mean? Under A.R.S. § 13-105(33), “physical injury” simply means an impairment of a person’s physical condition. This definition is not exactly helpful, but the statute is vague on purpose. By phrasing the definition of physical injury in those words, it leaves the question on what constitutes a physical injury up to the jury at a trial. If a jury believes that a broken fingernail is enough of an impairment of a person’s physical condition, then a person could be found guilty for the assault. If the person intended to break the person’s fingernail, then they would be charged with a class 1 misdemeanor assault.
Under the second part of the assault statute, a person can be charged with assault if they place a person in reasonable apprehension of imminent physical injury. This means that a person can be charged with assault, even if they never actually touch the person. A person is in reasonable apprehension of imminent physical injury if they are in fear that another person is about to harm them, and that fear is reasonable under the circumstances.
The key to this section of the statute is the word “reasonable.” What constitutes a reasonable belief that a person is in fear of being harmed? Again, this is a question that is left for a jury to decide at a trial. If a jury believes that it was reasonable to believe the conduct would result in a threat to the victim, then the person can be guilty of a class 2 misdemeanor assault.
Under the third part of the assault statute, a person can be charged with assault if they touch another person with the intent to injure, insult, or provoke that person. This means that a person can be charged with assault if they try to instigate a fight, or if they are harassing a person by touching them. A great example of this would be pushing somebody to try and get them to fight back.
The key to this section is the phrase “intent to.” If a jury feels as though the person intended to injure, but did not cause any physical injury (then it would be an assault under the first section), or if they intended to insult or provoke the person, then the person can be guilty of a class 3 misdemeanor assault.
While assault is most commonly classified as a misdemeanor, there are factors that can “aggravate” a defendant’s charge. When there are extenuating circumstances that make an assault more severe than the average offense, the law classifies it as an aggravated assault. Unlike simple assault, aggravated assault is a felony in the state of Arizona. This makes hiring experienced defense counsel even more crucial to your situation. According to A.R.S. § 13-1204, a defendant can cause their charge to become aggravated when they:
The state of Arizona recognizes two official categories of assault. The first and most common category of this offense is referred to as “simple assault.” Simple assault occurs when an individual commits an assault against another person in any way defined by A.R.S. §13-1203. Generally, these charges include anything from two drunk individuals provoking each other into a fight to someone intentionally hitting another person out of anger.
The biggest difference between simple assaults and aggravated assaults is that one is classified as a misdemeanor, and the other is a felony. While simple assaults can result in injury, they don’t usually cause serious bodily harm. Because some simple assaults don’t result in injury at all, they are charged in varying classes of misdemeanors. Another separating factor of the two charges is that with most aggravated assaults, the offense is more violent or intentional. Many simple assaults occur out of high emotions, whereas a variety of aggravated assaults are intentional or even planned.
The assault statute in Arizona encompasses three separate mental states that are required in order for the offense to have been committed. Let’s go into what each of these mental states mean. You can find the exact phrasing of the mental states under A.R.S. § 13-105(10).
Intentionally: When an offense is committed intentionally, that means that it was the person’s objective or goal to cause that particular result or to engage in that conduct. An example of this would be for a person to punch somebody with the goal of hurting that person.
Knowingly: When an offense is committed knowingly, that means that the person committing the offense acted deliberately under the assault statutes. To act knowingly does not require the person to have actual knowledge that the act is unlawful (i.e., ignorance of the law is not a defense). The main difference between intentionally and knowingly is a person does not have to intend for the victim to be hurt or harmed if they acted knowingly.
Recklessly: When an offense is committed recklessly, that means that a person is aware of a substantial and unjustifiable risk that something will happen based on their conduct, and that person consciously disregards that risk anyway. A good example of this would be throwing your drink into a crowd of people at a sporting event.
Misdemeanors and felonies have very different punishments. The following are the varying penalties an individual can receive if they are convicted of assault in Arizona:
Class 2 Felonies: Sexual assault is the only form of assault that is categorized as a Class 2 felony. However, while sexual assault is typically considered aggravated, Arizona has separate laws defining what it is and how it should be punished. Punishments can start with a minimum of 5 years in prison and include harsh fines. The exact guidelines surrounding sexual assault cases can be found in A.R.S. § 13-1406.
Class 3 Felonies: There is generally only one type of assault that is considered a Class 3 felony in Arizona, which is assault with a deadly weapon. Assault with a deadly weapon is categorized as a higher felony because, in addition to attempting to injure someone, the defendant has a weapon that can force them to comply or even kill them. Class 3 felonies can result in a minimum of 2 ½ years in prison but up to 8 years. The defendant may also have to pay restitution, participate in treatment, and pay fines.
Class 4 Felonies: Aggravated assault that causes substantial physical injury, disfigurement, or severe medical issues may be considered a Class 4 felony. Any form of assault that involves strangulation is also in this category. Class 4 felonies can cause penalties such as 1 ½ to 3 years in prison, fines, restitution, and probation.
Class 5 Felonies: When an aggravated assault is committed against an individual who is listed in paragraph 8 of A.R.S. § 13-1204, it is considered a class 5 felony. This is because these types of assaults are often targeted due to the job of the victim. Penalties for a Class 5 felony include prison time ranging from 6 months to 2 years, fines, restitution, and possible probation.
Class 6 Felonies: Most first-time aggravated assault offenses are charged as Class 6 felonies in Arizona. General punishments for Class 6 felonies include prison times ranging from 6 months to 1 ½ years, possible probation, fines, and possible restitution. However, in some cases, a Class 6 felony may be seen as a “wobbler.” A wobbler is a charge that has the possibility of being a misdemeanor or felony, depending on how serious the case is. In certain situations, an experienced lawyer may be able to negotiate your class 6 felony into a misdemeanor.
Class 1 Misdemeanors: In Arizona, a Class 1 misdemeanor assault is punishable with up to six months in jail, a fine of $2,500 plus an 78% surcharge, and up to three years of probation. You may also be required to pay restitution if you caused a victim harm.
Class 2 Misdemeanors: With Class 2 misdemeanor assault, the offense is punishable with up to four months in jail, a fine of $750 plus an 78% surcharge, and up to two years of probation. You can also be required to participate in community service and pay restitution if a judge sees fit.
Class 3 Misdemeanors: In a class 3 misdemeanor assault, the offense is punishable with up to one month in jail, a fine of $500 plus an 78% surcharge, and up to one year of probation. Similarly to the other misdemeanor charges, you may also have to pay restitution if you caused property damage, physical injury, or emotional harm.
For all assault convictions, a person could also be required to undergo substance abuse treatment if the court finds that the offense was committed while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Further, the court could also impose anger management treatment if it is appropriate under the circumstances.
As you can see, the legislation Arizona has surrounding assault is extremely complex. Whether you are the defendant facing charges or you are looking for a defense lawyer for a loved one, you need to ensure that you find a firm that is well-versed in criminal and assault law in your state. Working with an attorney that has experience with the type of case you’re involved in can help you in more ways than one. By reaching out to our exceptional team at Ryan Garvey Attorneys, you can expect to experience benefits such as:
Having an attorney who is dedicated to your case and its outcome is incredibly important. Oftentimes public defenders are overbooked, causing them to neglect cases that they shouldn’t. However, working with an accomplished private defense team can make a massive difference in your case. At Ryan Garvey Attorneys, we offer dedicated guidance throughout your entire case. Our team prioritizes your situation and is prepared to offer consistent support while we fight for your side of the story.
With assault accusations, especially ones that are considered felonies, a basic defense most likely won’t save you from punishment. That’s why seeking aid from a Phoenix criminal defense attorney is fundamental. By hiring an experienced legal team like Ryan Garvey Attorneys, you can be comforted knowing that your case is in the right hands. Our lawyers are committed to protecting your constitutional rights and forming a defense based on the strongest strategies possible. Whether you’re facing a misdemeanor or a felony, don’t wait to find an adept defense attorney.
It can be difficult for the average person to comprehend all of the varying legal aspects of their case. This is yet another reason why working with a defense attorney when you are facing criminal charges is so important. Our private defense lawyers carry extensive intellect and experience in the world of criminal law. This not only gives our defense team an advantage when negotiating in court, but it also allows us to help our clients better understand just exactly what they are going through.
Going through an assault case in Arizona is daunting. From potential prison time to a permanent criminal offense on your record, it can be easy to panic about the future. At Ryan Garvey Attorneys, we know that your situation can be frightening and frustrating. Our team has handled countless criminal cases, including assault charges, and is prepared to listen to what you have to say.
No matter your situation, it’s important that you seek legal help who can properly represent you. For more information on our firm’s criminal defense services in Phoenix, contact Ryan Garvey Attorneys.
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