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Arizona Criminal Trespassing Laws



Arizona Criminal Trespassing Laws


Figuring out when a specific action constitutes criminal trespassing can sometimes be tricky. It is a bit more nuanced than what it may seem at first. Knowing which lines, you cannot cross regarding trespassing is crucial if you want to stay out of trouble.

Understanding the act of trespassing better also allows you to fight against false charges. You do not need to tremble at the mere accusation of trespassing if you know your rights.

Throughout this article, we will talk more about criminal trespassing in the state of Arizona. We will define what the offense is and its varying degrees. We will also discuss the potential penalties that may stem from a criminal trespassing charge.

Read on to learn more about this important aspect of Arizona law.

What Is Criminal Trespassing?

Most of us have a general idea of what trespassing is all about. When you are on someone else’s property without their permission, that is typically considered trespassing.

That is a good place to start when learning more about trespassing, but there is more nuance to the matter. For instance, there are different degrees of trespassing violations that people may be guilty of.

Let’s get into those different degrees of criminal trespassing in Arizona in the sections below.

Criminal Trespassing in the Third-Degree

To get started, let’s first take a closer look at criminal trespassing in the third-degree. This is the least severe of the trespassing offenses in the state of Arizona.

You must meet one of two conditions to be guilty of the offense.

First, trespassing in the third-degree may occur if you knowingly enter or stay on property after you were already told to leave. The request to leave may come from different sources.

The owner of the property or someone in charge of it can tell you to leave. You will also need to leave if a law enforcement officer acting on behalf of the property owner tells you to. If there is a sign indicating you should not be on the property, you should leave as soon as you see it.

Third-degree trespassing may also occur if you are on the right-of-way for railroad tracks, switching yards, or a railroad company’s rolling stock. Leave immediately if you are in that area.

All instances of trespassing in the third degree are considered class 3 misdemeanors.

Penalties for Criminal Trespassing in the Third-Degree

Penalties for a class 3 misdemeanor include jail time. You are looking at a maximum jail sentence of thirty days if you are found guilty of third-degree trespassing.

Jail time is not the only thing you need to worry about. Guilty parties may also pay a fine. The maximum fine for committing third-degree trespassing in Arizona is $500.

The fine is not the only monetary penalty you may receive. The owner of the property may also sue you if they believe that you damaged their property.

As you can see, the penalties that stem from trespassing in the third-degree can be serious. Now, keep in mind that this is still the least severe of the trespassing-related offenses.

Criminal Trespassing in the Second-Degree

Second-degree trespassing narrows its focus further. It hones-in on the matter of trespassing on non-residential properties.

Per Arizona law, knowingly entering or staying unlawfully inside any non-residential structure constitutes second-degree trespassing. You may also be deemed guilty of committing this offense if you enter or stay too long inside any fenced commercial yard.

To clarify, a fenced commercial yard refers to properties such as farms or the spaces outside warehouses where they keep items. This space may be surrounded by walls, barriers, or other structures.

You can be charged with a class 2 misdemeanor if you commit second-degree trespassing.

Penalties for Criminal Trespassing in the Second-Degree

The penalties for class 2 misdemeanors ramp up significantly from their previous levels.

Jail time increases significantly for the guilty parties. Instead of spending a maximum of one month in prison, the defendant may spend the next four months locked up.

That is a big change in penalties that can set an individual back significantly for the foreseeable future.

Fines are baked into the penalties once again. This time around, the maximum fine can be $750.

Like before, anyone guilty of second-degree trespassing can also be sued by the owner of the property. If you damaged anything on that non-residential property, you could find yourself on the hook for numerous hefty payments.

Criminal Trespassing in the First-Degree – The Misdemeanors

Finally, we have first-degree trespassing violations. First-degree trespassing violations account for more potential crimes.

Notably, some first-degree trespassing violations are considered misdemeanors while others are not. Let’s talk about the misdemeanors first.

You can be guilty of first-degree trespassing in Arizona if you knowingly enter and/or refuse to leave a fenced residential yard. This refers to the back and front yards of residential homes.

Individuals can also be charged with criminal trespassing in the first-degree while they are in a residential yard that is not fenced. That happens if the individual in question looks into the residential structure.

Peeping like that is considered as infringing on the property owner’s right to privacy. This form of trespassing is not always considered a sex crime, but it could become that depending on certain circumstances.

Unlawfully entering a property “subject to a valid mineral claim or lease with the intent to hold, work, take or explore for minerals on the claim or lease” is similarly regarded as a first-degree trespassing violation.

Penalties for Criminal Trespassing in the First-Degree for the Misdemeanor Offenses

All the first-degree trespassing violations that we mentioned in the section above are considered class 1 misdemeanors. Class 1 misdemeanors carry the heaviest penalties among all the misdemeanor violations.

You can tell that right away by the amount of jail time a guilty party could potentially serve. The maximum jail sentence goes from four months to six.

The increase in the maximum potential fine is also significant. The court may order you to pay as much as $2,500 for the crime you committed.

Once again, we cannot forget about the possibility that you may be sued by the property owner if you are convicted of criminal trespassing in the first degree.

Class 1 misdemeanors carry some substantial penalties. Steer clear of them by heeding Arizona’s trespassing laws.

Criminal Trespassing in the First-Degree – The Felonies

Let’s continue talking about criminal trespassing in the first-degree by focusing on the violations that qualify as felonies.

If you enter someone’s home and/or refuse to leave someone’s home, they can charge you with trespassing. Simply put, you should not be in another person’s home unless you have permission to be there.

Individuals who enter another person’s property and then proceed to vandalize a religious symbol or another form of religious property without permission can also receive a trespassing charge.

Both of those violations are regarded as class 6 felonies.

The law can charge anyone who unlawfully enters or stays inside a critical public service facility with criminal trespassing.

The term “critical public service facility” accounts for a wide variety of structures.

Structures used for public transportation and distributing and storing various public utilities are considered critical public service facilities. Buildings used by law enforcement, fire departments, and emergency service providers also qualify.

Unlawfully entering or staying inside a critical public service facility and you could find yourself receiving a class 5 felony.

Penalties for Criminal Trespassing in the First-Degree for the Felony Offenses

Being guilty of committing a class 6 felony means that you could go to prison for a long time.

The maximum prison sentence for a person who commits a class 6 felony is eighteen months. The minimum prison sentence is still quite lengthy at six months.

Criminals charged with a class 5 felony are looking at even more prison time.

The minimum prison sentence for those individuals goes up to nine months. Meanwhile, the maximum sentence for offenders is two years in prison.

Fines remain among the penalties that offenders may face. For a felony offense, the upper limit for the fine assessed is up to $150,000.

Paying a potential fine of $150,000 is tough enough. Consider how difficult paying off that fine will be if the property owner also sues you.

What Are Potential Defenses against Criminal Trespassing Charges?

You can see how devastating the penalties associated with criminal trespassing are. If you ever find yourself in the unfortunate position of being falsely charged with criminal trespassing, fighting hard against those accusations is a must.

Partnering with an experienced lawyer is necessary for that scenario. Your lawyer may also look to use the defenses detailed below as they fight back against the false trespassing charges that have been put forth.

There Was No Intent to Trespass

One of the most common defenses used in trespassing cases is to say that the defendant had no intent to trespass upon another person’s property. The defense attorney may argue that their client had no idea that they were even intruding upon a privately owned property or piece of land.

That kind of incident can happen if the property in question is often unsupervised. The property owner may only be relying on a “no trespassing” sign to keep unwelcome visitors away.

The problem with only using a “no trespassing” sign is that it may be positioned in the wrong spot. They must place them by the entrances to the property itself. If they are not located there, someone entering the property can easily miss them.

A person may be trespassing on private property without even being aware that they are doing so. It sounds like an excuse, but it is something that can happen. Use it as your defense if it applies in your case.

You Received Permission to Be on the Property

Misunderstandings can get out of hand in a hurry. A simple lack of communication can lead to tempers flaring and calling the police.

For example, a friend may have invited you to hang out at their house, but they said they would be late, so you should let yourself in. Following their instructions, you decide to enter the home only to meet with the startled expression of one of its residents.

In all that confusion, the resident of the home may have called the police to report you as a trespasser or perhaps even an intruder. Of course, that is not the case.

You had permission to enter the property, and you even have evidence of it. Disproving the trespassing charges put forth against you is easy when you have that evidence.

There may not even be a need to take things to court as long as you can prove that the owner of the property invited you over.

The Person Who Asked You to Leave Is Not the Owner of the Property

To avoid a trespassing charge, you should leave if the owner of the property tells you to. There is no need to overstay your welcome unless you want to get in trouble.

But what should you do if someone other than the owner of the property is asking you to leave? That can be a bit tricky.

If you do have permission to be on the property from the owner, you have no reason to leave. The person asking you to leave may have no authority to order you to do anything like that. To be safe, double-check with the owner of the property so you can rest assured that you are not trespassing.

Errors Made by Law Enforcement

Another common defense used in many cases is to point out that law enforcement committed errors that led to violating your constitutional rights. Police officers can make mistakes while in the middle of collecting evidence or arresting you. If they committed violations themselves, the charges against you may not stick.

Criminal trespassing charges carry serious penalties. Avoid those penalties by fighting back against the false accusations being lobbed at you. Contact us at the Schill Law Group and we will guide you through that legal ordeal.

What to Expect from Misdemeanor Assault Charges in Arizona



What to Expect from Misdemeanor Assault Charges in Arizona

Misdemeanor assault charges are serious accusations. If you are on the receiving end of false assault charges, you need to do everything in your power to fight them.

The effects of those charges can be devastating. They can lead to severe penalties that impact your immediate and long-term future. On top of that, those charges can stick with you even after the law duly punishes you.

In this article, we will further detail what misdemeanor assault charges are all about. We will discuss how you might end up charged with misdemeanor assault and the different variations of that offense. We will also talk about the penalties that stem from those charges if you are an Arizona resident.

Find out more about misdemeanor assault charges in Arizona by continuing with the rest of this article.

What Is Misdemeanor Assault in the State of Arizona?

When you think of an offense such as assault, it is easy to think that it only involves hurting someone. Maybe you punched someone in the face after arguing with them. That does indeed constitute assault, but crucially, that type of offense can occur even without someone getting injured.

In the state of Arizona, they classify misdemeanor assault into three categories. We have detailed what those categories are below.

Class 3 Misdemeanor Assault

Class 3 misdemeanor assault is the lightest of all the potential assault charges in Arizona.

For a class 3 misdemeanor assault charge to stick, the prosecutor must prove that the defendant knowingly touched another person to injure them. These charges also account for instances where a person touches another to insult or provoke them.

An example of class 3 misdemeanor assault would be pushing someone while the two of you were in the middle of an argument. The prosecutor could argue that you pushed the other person to force them to the ground. They could also argue that your push provoked the other party to hit you.

Penalties for Class 3 Misdemeanor Assault

The penalties for class 1 misdemeanor assault can be quite impactful.

It starts with a jail sentence. You are looking at potentially spending 30 days in jail if those charges stick in court.

Being put on probation is also a possibility for those found guilty of class 1 misdemeanor assault. The probation period may last up to one year.

Guilty parties will also need to pay fines and render community service. The judge may also order them to attend anger management classes.

Class 2 Misdemeanor Assault

Different violations may qualify as a form of class 2 misdemeanor assault. You may be guilty whether you injure someone or not.

First, you can be guilty of a class 2 misdemeanor assault if you intentionally put the other party in “reasonable apprehension of imminent physical injury”.

An example of this would be threatening to punch someone while approaching them. The defendant may be yelling across the room, and as the enraged assailant closes in, the other party assumes they will get hit.

Note that the defendant does not need to go through with hitting the plaintiff. Authorities could interpret the threat of it alone as a misdemeanor assault.

You can also be deemed guilty of class 2 misdemeanor assault if you recklessly injured someone. Even though the intent was lacking, assault can still occur if you injure someone.

While under the influence of alcohol, you may have gotten too rowdy inside the bar. If you accidentally hit and injure someone, authorities can charge you with class 2 misdemeanor assault.

Penalties for Class 2 Misdemeanor Assault

Unsurprisingly, penalties for class 2 assault are more severe than what you would get for a class 3 charge.

We can start again with jail time. This time around, your jail sentence quadruples to 120 days. It is not that difficult to imagine how being in jail for that long could damage your life.

The maximum probationary period for an individual charged with class 2 assault also increases. It goes all the way up to two years.

The penalties from before such as fines, community service, and attending anger management classes also return for class 2 misdemeanor assault charges.

Class 1 Misdemeanor Assault

Finally, we have the assault charges that are classified as class 1 misdemeanors. They are the most serious of all the misdemeanor charges in Arizona.

To be found guilty of class 1 misdemeanor assault, the prosecutor must prove that you either knowingly or intentionally injured someone.

Punching someone during an argument can be classified as a class 1 misdemeanor offense. You knew what you were doing, and you also knew how it could impact the other party, and you went through with it anyway. The prosecution can establish your intent in that scenario.

Knowingly injuring someone is a bit different than intentionally doing so. If you knowingly injure someone, it is possible that there was no intent on your part to cause harm. Even so, you should have known that your actions could have injured someone around you.

Throwing bottles or chairs around inside a bar is dangerous, and any reasonable adult would know that. If you were not drunk and yet engaged in those dangerous activities, you could receive a class 1 assault if you hit someone with one of the objects you threw.

Penalties for Class 1 Misdemeanor Assault

The penalties for a class 1 misdemeanor assault charge are harsh.

Jail time for this type of offense can last up to six months. Your probationary period can also extend to three years.

Yet again, they could impose other penalties like fines, community service, and attending anger management classes on those who commit a class 1 misdemeanor assault.

What Are Common Defenses against Misdemeanor Assault Charges in Arizona?

The penalties for misdemeanor assault charges in Arizona can change your life. You may not think that spending one month in jail is a big deal, but so much can happen during that time. The fines can be onerous as well.

Guilty parties also need to deal with all the fallout from their conviction.

False assault charges can be ruinous. You need to fight against them properly. Partnering with a skilled and experienced lawyer will help you mount the defense you need in these cases.

Listed below are some commonly used defenses against misdemeanor assault charges.

Lack of Intent or Awareness

Class 1 misdemeanor assault charges are the toughest to prove in court because there is a high bar to clear. Proving that someone either intentionally or knowingly injured someone is not easy because we cannot get into each other’s heads.

If the state charges you with this kind of crime, expect your lawyer to focus on the intent or awareness aspect of what happened.

They can argue that you did not intentionally injure the other person. They may claim that an accident is what caused the injury.

Proving that you were not aware that you could injure someone when you did is trickier. Your lawyer could argue that you were not in the right state of mind when you committed that violent act.

Acting in Defense

Attacking someone is regarded as a violent and unnecessary act. However, there are instances where you can justify your decision.

Your lawyer could argue that you were acting in self-defense when you technically assaulted someone. They could point out the fact that the other party provoked you.

It is also possible that the other party committed a class 2 misdemeanor when they threatened you with a raised fist and their other hand on your shirt collar. At that point, you could have reasonably assumed that you were about to be attacked so you fought back.

Self-defense is a valid defense not only if you are the one being harmed or threatened.

You can also justify your actions by saying that you were defending another person. If you can prove that you hit someone because you came to another person’s defense, you are more likely to receive a favorable outcome in court.

A Necessary Action

There are rare instances where a form of assault may have been necessary because of an emergency.

For example, the building you are in may be on fire. You are looking for the exit, but someone is blocking it for whatever reason.

At that point, you can push them out of the way and justify your decision. The court may decide that your actions were necessary because the other party was unreasonable during that situation.

Your Constitutional Rights Were Violated

Lawyers can also examine the events involving law enforcement that transpired in your case in search of potential violations. To be more specific, they may be looking for instances where law enforcement officials violated your constitutional rights.

Police officers who arrest you without a warrant and/or fail to read you your Miranda rights may be guilty of committing those violations. They may have also failed to allow you to talk with your lawyer within a reasonable amount of time after arresting you.

The law does not look fondly upon those constitutional violations. You may be cleared of your charges simply because the police officers did not play by the rules.

What Is Aggravated Assault?

We now know all about misdemeanor assault offenses in Arizona. Do note, however, that misdemeanor assault is not the only criminal offense of that nature that is detailed in Arizona law. You also have crimes that are classified as forms of aggravated assault.

Aggravated assault cases are like the offenses we mentioned earlier in that they both may involve people getting injured. You should also know that aggravated assault is a felony, meaning it carries some substantial penalties.

Additional circumstances can turn ordinary assault cases into aggravated assault cases, though.

Let’s examine what those circumstances are below.

The Severity of the Injury Caused

How severe the injury turns out to be can affect whether they charge you with assault or aggravated assault.

If you disfigure the affected party, fracture a bone, or lose organ function due to their injury, the law can charge the assailant with aggravated assault. That may be the case even if those lingering effects prove to be temporary.

You can also be charged with aggravated assault if you caused a “serious physical injury”.

The Status of the Victim

The status of the victim involved in the case can also impact what kind of charge they ultimately hand down.

Crimes against minors are always taken seriously by the law. They can charge an assailant assaulting someone under the age of fifteen with aggravated assault.

Aggravated assault also accounts for those cases where the assailant harmed someone who already had an order of protection out against them. Assaulting someone who is restrained or otherwise unable to offer any resistance is also considered aggravated assault.

A person can also be charged with aggravated assault if they injured a law enforcement official, a healthcare worker, or a teacher who was on school grounds.

Other Circumstances That Can Lead to Aggravated Assault Charges

Aggravated assault occurs if someone uses a deadly weapon, a simulated deadly weapon, or some other dangerous instrument. Going into someone else’s home with the intent of harming them is aggravated assault.

Lastly, committing assault when you are already in custody will lead to greater penalties. You could wind up ruining your life if you fail to behave while you are already incarcerated.

Assault charges carry some significant penalties in Arizona, and rightfully so. Those harsh penalties are not limited to aggravated assault charges because even misdemeanor offenses must be duly punished.

Fight back against any false assault charges put forth against you. Reach out to us at the Schill Law Group and we will ensure that the truth comes out in your case.

Unlawful Flight to Avoid Prosecution in Arizona



Unlawful Flight to Avoid Prosecution in Arizona

The sound of a siren blaring behind you and the sight of a police car coming are not exactly pleasant stimuli when you are driving. Usually, they are indicators that you have done something wrong, but whatever you do, avoid engaging in unlawful flight.

We understand that the knee-jerk response some people have for pursuing law enforcement is to drive away. You may not even be thinking clearly about what you are doing. Your fight or flight instincts kicked in, and the latter won out.

In this article, we will detail why fleeing any pursuing law enforcement vehicle is a bad idea. Stay tuned to learn about potential penalties you may face and defenses you can use against those charges.

Defining Unlawful Flight from Pursuing Law Enforcement

To get things started, let’s first define what unlawful flight from law enforcement is. Per Arizona law, any driver who willfully flees or attempts to elude a pursuing law enforcement official can be found guilty of this particular offense.

Driving away from the police is illegal. Learning that fleeing or at least attempting to flee from the police constitutes a criminal offense should come as no surprise.

However, there are some notable elements of this law that people may not know about.

Unlawful Flight from an Authorized Emergency Vehicle

There must be a clear reason why the police officer asked you to stop. Police officers typically ask drivers to stop for one of four reasons.

Due to a Suspected Violation

The first reason is related to a suspicion that they have. If the police had reason to believe that you committed a crime of some sort, then they may possess the authority to pull you over.

This is usually the case if a police officer thinks you were speeding, moving through a red light, or if they thought you were driving under the influence of alcohol. That suspicion is substantial enough for them.

Due to an Actual Violation

Another reason why the police officer may ask you to pull over is they saw you commit a violation. Drivers who text while operating their vehicle will be stopped by a police officer right away. The same goes for committing almost any other offense.

Fleeing from the police officer in that scenario could land you in more significant trouble.

Due to Being a Suspected Individual

It does not happen as often in real life as it does in the movies, but criminals will go on the run sometimes. When something like that happens, alerts will usually go out to police officers in the area, informing them of a criminal on the loose.

The police officers may sometimes receive precise information such as the vehicle’s license plate and a clear description of the suspect. It is also possible that the information given to the police officers is somewhat unclear. They may have a general description of the culprit’s appearance and the color of the vehicle, but nothing more.

If a police officer does not have precise information to work with, they may ask drivers who resemble the assailant to stop. They may do something similar for all drivers operating vehicles that look similar to what the suspect has.

In pursuit of a criminal, the police may deem it necessary to cast a wide net. You may be affected by that if you look somewhat like the criminal or have a vehicle similar to what they have.

Being annoyed that a police officer asked you to stop due to a case of mistaken identity is understandable. Still, things could turn out worse if you refuse to stop your vehicle.

Due to an Emergency Call

Lastly, a police officer may also ask you to pull over due to an emergency call. The police may have received a call specifically about you and your vehicle. You will need to comply with that order from the police or risk running afoul of the law.

What Police Officers Can Do to Chase You Down

The law grants police officers special exemptions if they are pursuing a suspected criminal. If the vehicle pursuing you has an operating siren that is visible 500 feet from the front of the vehicle, they can do certain things on the road.

Drive Past Red Lights and Stop Signs

You may have thought of potentially running a red light to avoid the pursuing police officers. Do note that such an action will not work in your favor.

Police officers pursuing a suspected criminal can drive through a red light or a stop sign. They can do that if they first slow down to ensure they can proceed past the red light or stop sign safely.

Ignore Laws about Turning or Moving in Specified Directions

The signs indicating that vehicles must turn a certain way or head to a particular road do not apply to police officers during the pursuit. They can drive down whichever road necessary to reach your vehicle.

Disregard Speed Limits

Police officers are also not obligated to heed speed limits if they have their sirens blaring while chasing down a potential offender. They can continue to operate their authorized emergency vehicles in that manner if they are not endangering anyone or any property.

Unlawful Flight from an Unmarked Vehicle

It is obvious that you need to stop if you see a police car tailing you and asking you to pull over. However, law enforcement officials do not always use police cars.

There are times when police officers will use an unmarked vehicle instead of an authorized emergency vehicle.

Police officers operate unmarked vehicles for different reasons. Most of the time, police officers use those unmarked vehicles to enforce traffic regulations.

A police officer driving a clearly marked authorized emergency vehicle is one thing. You know right away that you should probably stop in that situation.

Figuring out what to do when an unmarked vehicle is approaching you is tougher. Still, you can be charged with a crime if you decide to flee. The factors detailed below will determine whether your decision to drive away from the unmarked vehicle constitutes a violation of the law.

You Admitted to Knowing That the Unmarked Vehicle Was Being Used by Law Enforcement

After you decide to stop after a brief chase, the police officer may come up to your window and ask if you knew they were law enforcement. The answer you give there will go a long way towards the outcome of a potential case.

Confirming that you knew law enforcement was pursuing you could prove harmful to you in court. It is a big piece of evidence the police can use against you if they charge you with unlawful flight.

Evidence Indicates That You Knew the Unmarked Vehicle Was Being Used by Law Enforcement

You are not out of the woods, even if you claim you did not know the unmarked vehicle was law enforcement. If the police officers can come up with evidence indicating that you knew they were law enforcement, they can charge you with unlawful flight.

Why Do Drivers Flee from Law Enforcement?

Trying to run from the law is generally not advisable. So, why do people attempt it anyway? Listed below are some of the reasons why drivers try to speed away from law enforcement.

The Driver Was Unaware of the Presence of Law Enforcement

When police officers use unmarked vehicles, there is always a chance that drivers will not recognize them. Some drivers may attempt to flee because they are unsure if police officers are chasing them down. That would be an unfortunate situation for any driver, and it can happen from time to time.

The Driver Was Afraid of Being Caught in a Trap

Nefarious individuals will use whatever means necessary to trick unsuspecting victims. They may masquerade as police officers driving unmarked vehicles by using sirens.

If you have been victimized by those criminals before, you will naturally be wary of being targeted again. Even if you hear that familiar siren, you may not stop unless you see a real police car behind you.

The Driver Committed a Violation of Some Kind

The driver may also try to escape from the cops simply because they know they did something wrong. They may be driving under the influence, driving with a suspended license, or trying to escape some other charge.

Some individuals may be aware that law enforcement catching up to them will turn out badly no matter what, so they would rather try to escape instead of pulling over.

What Are the Penalties for Unlawful Flight from Pursuing Law Enforcement?

Anyone found guilty of unlawful flight from pursuing law enforcement can receive a class 5 felony. A class 5 felony is a serious charge in Arizona.

Guilty parties usually render community service as part of their punishment. They may also pay fines. In some cases, the offending party may also be put on probation.

The most significant penalty in an unlawful flight case is prison time.

The minimum prison sentence for a class 5 felony in Arizona is nine months in prison. The presumptive sentence is a year and a half of incarceration. Meanwhile, being hit with the maximum sentence could mean that you will spend the next two years in prison.

It is still possible for a guilty individual to avoid prison time in an unlawful flight case. If they have no other felonies on their record, the judge may show leniency and opt for probation instead. Working with an experienced lawyer can also help you avoid the harshest possible penalty.

There are some benefits people may receive from having no felonies on their record, but there are also penalties that stem from having a criminal history. If you are a repeat offender, you could find yourself saddled with a longer prison sentence.

What Are Potential Defenses That Can Be Used in an Unlawful Flight Case?

Do not lose hope even if they charge you with unlawful flight, and you genuinely were not trying to avoid the police. There are still defenses you can use to justify your actions.

You Did Not Know That the Police Officers Were Using an Unmarked Vehicle

This is among the more effective defenses in unlawful flight cases.

Did the cops use an unmarked vehicle to chase you? If so, you and your attorney can argue that you were unaware that police officers were in that vehicle.

It would be difficult to prove that you knew about their presence if they were using anything other than a police car. Avoid saying anything they can construe as an admission that you knew the police were pursuing you. The police officers should be the ones tasked with proving you committed a crime.

You Wanted to Find a Safe Spot before Pulling Over

The police officers may start telling you to pull over in the middle of a road with fast-moving vehicles. Being concerned for your safety, you decide not to stop right away. Instead, you drive a bit more until you can find a suitable spot to park your vehicle.

You did not do anything wrong from your perspective, and you certainly were not trying to avoid the police. However, the police officers may interpret your refusal to stop right away as an attempt at an unlawful flight.

Make your intentions clear in court and use that as your defense.

You Were Dealing with an Emergency

One more defense you can use is to say that you were rushing to an emergency when the police officers asked you to pull over. Stopping to tell the police officers about your emergency is the smart move in that situation. At that time, though, you may have been too preoccupied with the crisis to think that clearly.

Mention that in court and use it to explain your refusal to pull over immediately.

An unlawful flight charge is one you can successfully fight against. Reach out to us at the Schill Law Group and let us help you defend yourself against this serious accusation.

How to Clear Your Criminal Record



How to Clear Your Criminal Record

Many of us made foolish mistakes when we were younger. Some of those mistakes turn into nothing more than amusing stories told occasionally, but others end up on a criminal record. Even though you are a changed individual and have learned from those mistakes, they may still haunt you. That is an unfortunate reality many people deal with today. But is there a way to change that? Can you clear your criminal record and get a fresh start? In this article, we will come up with the answers to those questions. Stick around and see what options are available to Arizona residents looking to finally clear their record after years of living with their earlier mistakes.

Why Should You Look into Clearing Your Criminal Record?

Before we dive deep into the topic of clearing criminal records, let’s first answer a simple question. Why do you even need to clear your criminal record? As it turns out, there are numerous reasons why such a move makes a lot of sense for previous offenders. Let’s go over those reasons below.

More Employment Opportunities

Although applicants with a blemish on their criminal record are not automatically disqualified from seeking job opportunities, employers can still factor that into their calculations. That can sometimes feel unfair given how much you have grown as a person since making that mistake. It is ultimately the employer’s call, though. That mark on your record may stick in their mind and end up being a reason why they opted to pass on hiring you.

Easier Entry into Low-Income Public Housing

Like employment opportunities, a mark on your criminal record might not disqualify you from being approved for low-income public housing. However, the presence of that mark can still be a determining factor in your case.

Admission to Colleges and Universities

Every year, students from all over the country contend for the few slots available at the most prestigious colleges and universities. Many of those educational institutions have high standards for admission. Once again, a criminal record might not disqualify you from entering your school of choice. Even so, you are facing an uphill climb because they would compare that blemish to other applicants.

Restoration of Civil Rights

Being convicted of certain crimes in Arizona means that they could suspend some of your civil rights. Among those privileges could include your right to vote, your right to hold public office, and your right to possess a firearm. You cannot take advantage of those privileges until you clear your criminal record.

Can You Clear Your Criminal Record in the State of Arizona?

Now that we know all the potential benefits that come from clearing a criminal record, we can turn our attention to the process itself. First off, let’s find out if such an action is even legal in the state of Arizona. Here is the thing: Expunging your criminal record is not allowed in Arizona. If you were hoping that you could wipe away your earlier crime from your record, that cannot happen. However, Arizona does offer alternatives to expungement. To be more specific, you can file a petition to either ask the court to make an entry on all records or ask the court to set aside a judgment on a prior conviction.

Entry on All Records

Let’s focus first on the process of petitioning the court to make an entry on all records. You are specifically asking the court to clarify your criminal record that you have been cleared of your previous charges. There is an important caveat when it comes to this method of clearing your criminal record, though. According to Arizona law, you are only eligible for this type of action if you were wrongfully arrested, indicted, or charged with a crime. The point of going down this route is to have it indicated on all records that they have cleared you of charges previously imposed upon you. It is not only your criminal record that will be cleared by this method. Any court records, police records, or other documents held by other government agencies that relate to your earlier charges will also be altered to reflect your innocence. Another advantage of having your record clarified is that officials will place limitations on who can access those old arrest records of yours. Law enforcement agencies will not be allowed to provide those records to anyone even after a request is made. The judge must first authorize them to give out that record before a third party can see it. It is still not expungement per se, but this method does manage to conceal the blemishes on your criminal record. That should prove helpful when you are sending out work or school applications. Technically, those old arrests are still on your record, but they do not carry the same stigma anymore. Law enforcement officials must treat that earlier arrest as if it never happened.

When Is Entry on All Records Granted?

As noted above, the court will only make a change to your records if you were wrongfully arrested, charged, or indicted. That is one requirement you must meet if you wish to clear your criminal record via this method. The other requirement is related to how the judge views the potential merits of your petition. If the judge believes they can better serve justice by granting your petition, it will likely be accepted. Fail to meet that standard, and they can deny your petition.

Set Aside Judgment

In contrast to the petition to make an entry on all records, a petition requesting to set aside judgment is intended for those who have been convicted of a criminal offense. So, what does it mean to have a judgment set aside? The point of this action is to reflect the fact that you have paid your debt to society. Once they grant your petition to set aside judgment, the court will note that you have successfully completed all the requirements of your prior conviction. Your record will now show that you finished your sentence and even paid fines if they were among your penalties. An important thing to note here is that your record will not be purged even after this action is completed. If someone looks up your criminal record online, they will still see that prior conviction. Of course, the difference now is that your record also shows that you have done everything asked of you. There are no restrictions placed on who can access your record even after getting the conviction set aside. Any potential employer or school administrator can still look up your record online and find that conviction. Getting a conviction set aside is still worth it, though. Some employers and schools may develop a more favorable opinion of you after seeing that your conviction has been set aside. Furthermore, you can also get your suspended civil rights back.

When Is a Set Aside Granted?

Several factors are considered by the court when deciding whether to grant a petitioner’s request to have a conviction set aside. The court will first consider the status of the petitioner. They will look at the age of the petitioner at the time they were initially convicted. The court will also consider how well the petitioner has complied with the terms of their punishment. Any prior convictions will also factor into the court’s calculus. Factors such as the nature of the crime and how much time has passed since the petitioner finished their sentence will also matter. The court may also reach out to the victim who was on the receiving end of the petitioner’s criminal acts. What the victim has to say about the whole matter is of great importance. There are numerous other factors relevant to the case that the court may weigh before making a final decision.

Who Are Ineligible to Have Their Criminal Records Cleared?

Both misdemeanor and felony convictions can be set aside. That means people who currently have blemishes on their criminal records can eventually have those cleared. Crucially, though, not everyone is eligible to have their convictions set aside. Let’s discuss which convictions cannot be set aside in the state of Arizona.

Crimes with a Sexual Motivation

The presence of sexual motivation in your crime can be reason enough for the court to dismiss your petition to get the conviction set aside. If the court says that there was sexual motivation behind your actions, that means your pursuit of sexual gratification factored into why you committed a criminal act. If that sexual motivation points to your offense, the court will not set it aside.

Crimes That Required a Defendant to Register as a Sex Offender

The law cannot set aside any criminal offense that requires the defendant to register as a sex offender. Examples of crimes where guilty parties must register as sex offenders include child molestation, sexual abuse of a minor, sexual exploitation of a minor, etc.

Crimes That Led to Serious Physical Injury

Individuals guilty of inflicting serious physical injury upon another person are not eligible to have their conviction set aside. Those are regarded as dangerous offenses.

Crimes That Involved the Use or Exhibition of a Deadly Weapon

Speaking of dangerous offenses, individuals guilty of using or brandishing a deadly weapon of some kind cannot have their conviction set aside. The state of Arizona considers anything that is “designed for deadly use” a deadly weapon.

Crimes That Involved a Victim under the Age of Fifteen

Arizona law prioritizes the protection of minors. If your conviction is a crime involving someone under the age of fifteen, they cannot set it aside.

Certain Driving Offenses

Lastly, they will not set aside some driving-related offenses according to Arizona law. For instance, if they caught you driving with a suspended license, do not count on the court being able to set your conviction aside.

How Does the Process of Clearing Criminal Records Work?

To start getting your conviction set aside or having an entry made into your records, you will first need to fill out some forms. The forms you must fill out will depend on whether you are getting a misdemeanor or a felony conviction set aside. Talk to your attorney about that and let them help you acquire the required forms. Next, you will have to file the filled-out forms with the court. Head over to the Clerk’s Office in your county and get your documents stamped and dated. The clerk will return some of the copies, and you must hold on to them. If you are aiming to get a felony conviction set aside, you are also required to send your forms to the prosecutor in your area. From here, your petition may progress in a few ways. First off, the court may grant your petition right away. You do not need to do anything else at that point. Simply wait for the news that your record has been cleared. The judge may also ask you to perform other actions before progressing with the petition. That may happen if you failed to complete some steps. It is also possible that the judge will schedule a hearing in your case. Make sure you attend that hearing and answer any questions that the judge has for you. Notably, the prosecutor may also be asked to participate in that hearing and provide input regarding your petition. Lastly, there is also a chance that the court will deny your petition.

What Are the Available Options if a Petition Is Denied?

Do not lose heart if your petition has been denied. You can simply modify the forms and file them again. Take a moment to evaluate your petition before you file that request, though. Figure out how you can make a better case for the judge. Consulting with an attorney before filing that request will be crucial. Partner with us at the Schill Law Group if you intend to file a petition to get your record cleared or want to file a request for reconsideration. Contact us today and let us discuss your legal options.

Sex Crimes and Their Consequences



Sex Crimes and Their Consequences

Any crime can hurt the individuals directly involved. Still, a sex crime tends to take on a different gravity given the terrible impact it can have on the victim.


The people who commit sex crimes can leave behind deeply traumatized victims in their wake. We need to recognize if we see a crime of that nature, we should act against it as soon as possible.

Throughout this article, we will discuss the different acts considered as sex crimes in the state of Arizona. We will also talk about the potential penalties those guilty of committing sex crimes may face.


Infidelity is among the leading causes of divorce in the United States. Discovering evidence of infidelity can be a devastating revelation. It can erode the foundation of a family and cause the victim to lose trust in any potential partner moving forward.

Cheating on one’s spouse by having sexual relations with another person is considered a crime in Arizona.

According to state law, any married person who has sexual intercourse with anyone other than their spouse is guilty of adultery. Furthermore, an unmarried individual who has sexual intercourse with a married person can also be guilty of adultery.

An important thing to note about adultery is that the charges will not push forward until the spouse they cheated on files a complaint.

The act of adultery is a class 3 misdemeanor in Arizona. Class 3 misdemeanors come with a jail sentence that is no longer than thirty days and a fine no greater than $500.

Child Molestation

Molesting a child is one of the most heinous acts any person can commit. In Arizona law, they define child molestation as intentionally or knowingly engaging in sexual conduct with a child under fifteen years old.

If the sexual contact only involves the female breast, that is a different crime.

Child molestation is a class 2 felony in Arizona and has severe penalties. The minimum prison sentence is ten years, while the maximum sentence is twenty-four years. Guilty parties will also pay a fine no greater than $150,000.


Anyone guilty of child molestation must also register as a sex offender.

Indecent Exposure

Exposing certain parts of the body carelessly when another person is present can constitute an indecent exposure charge. To be more specific, those who expose their genitals and anus can be found guilty of the mentioned offense.

Officials can charge women who expose the areolas and/or nipples of their breasts with this sex crime. It is important to note that an exception is made to this when a mother is breastfeeding.

Urinating in public can potentially lead to an indecent exposure charge. It is possible that the person urinating unwittingly exposed their body to someone nearby. There is an argument to be made that such an action constitutes indecent exposure.

A factor that can determine the severity of the penalties in indecent exposure cases is the age of the individual exposed.

If the victim of the crime is over fifteen years of age, the defendant will receive a class 1 misdemeanor. Violators may spend up to six months in jail and pay a fine no greater than $2500.

If the victim is under fifteen years of age, the charge will be a class 6 felony. The prison sentence for a class 6 felony ranges from six months to eighteen months. Defendants will also pay a fine no greater than $150,000.

Note that repeated charges of indecent exposure can lead to significantly longer prison sentences. It is possible that an offender may spend up to twelve years in prison for indecent exposure.

Public Sexual Indecency

People sometimes confuse indecent exposure and public sexual indecency with one another. Indecent exposure stems from exposing certain parts of the body. Public sexual indecency focuses more on committing sexual acts in public while another person is present.

The sexual acts in question include sexual conduct, oral sexual conduct, sexual intercourse, and an act of bestiality.

Public sexual indecency is a class 1 misdemeanor if the person exposed to the sexual acts is over fifteen years old. If the victim is younger, the charge will be a class 5 felony. Class 5 felonies carry a potential prison sentence ranging from nine months to two years.

Being charged with public sexual indecency more than once will also lead to a longer prison sentence.

Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse accounts for a wide variety of crimes. The definition of sexual abuse can also change depending on the age of the victim.

Let us focus first on the definition of sexual abuse that concerns two adults.

According to Arizona law, anyone who intentionally or knowingly engages in sexual contact with another adult without that person’s consent is guilty of sexual abuse. Committing sexual abuse against another adult is a class 5 felony.

Sexual Abuse Involving Minors

Sexual abuse varies quite a bit when a minor is involved.

Earlier, it was noted that engaging in sexual contact with a person under fifteen years of age constitutes child molestation, but not if the contact is limited to the female breast. Sexual abuse is the crime that accounts for sexual contact limited to the female breast of minors under fifteen years of age.

In cases where one party is an adult and the other is fifteen to eighteen years old, they can still receive a sexual abuse charge. That holds true, whether the victim consented to the act if the defendant is a person in a position of trust.

Arizona law defines people in a “position of trust” as the minor’s parents, adoptive parents, stepparents, foster parents, legal guardians, teachers, coaches, priests, or clergymen. An individual committed to a romantic/sexual relationship with the minor’s parent, adoptive parent, stepparent, foster parent, or legal guardian is a person in a “position of trust.”

Sexual abuses involving minors are class 3 felonies. The prison sentence for a class 3 felony ranges from two and a half years to seven years. Violators must also pay a fine and register as sex offenders.

Sexual Assault

The depraved act of sexual assault is a horrendous crime in Arizona. Sexual assault is when one person intentionally engages in sexual intercourse or oral contact with another person who has not consented to the act.

Sexual assault is a class 2 felony, but it carries different penalties compared to the other crimes classified as such.

The minimum penalty for sexual assault is five years and three months in prison. The maximum prison sentence goes up to fourteen years. Repeat offenders can also spend up to twenty-eight years in prison due to their crimes.

The penalties are even harsher for those found guilty of sexually assaulting a child under twelve years of age.

A person who sexually assaulted a minor can receive life in prison. They are also not eligible to be pardoned, released, or have their sentence suspended until they have served thirty-five years in confinement. The state also requires sex offenders to register.

Sexual Exploitation of a Minor

The exploitation of children is another form of abuse. The exploitation can become sexual depending on what actions the children perform.

Officials can charge any person who records or photographs a minor engaging in sexual conduct with sexual exploitation of a minor. Even those who develop or duplicate the exploitative content in question can receive the same charge.

Sexual exploitation of a minor is not limited merely to producing or duplicating the exploitative content. Officials can also charge individuals if they distribute, transport, sell, purchase, or merely possess the graphic images and/or videos.

The crime is a class 2 felony in Arizona but has different penalties compared to other crimes in that group.

Upon being charged with sexual exploitation of a minor, the guilty party could face ten to twenty-four years in prison. Any person who commits this crime must also register as a sex offender.

Sexual Extortion

Morally corrupt individuals will resort to underhanded means to get what they want. They are not above extorting others to satisfy their sexual desires. Anyone who resorts to that action is guilty of sexual extortion.

The first part of sexual extortion involves making a threat of some kind.

Typically, the threat comes in the form of the defendant saying they will tarnish their target’s reputation or damage their property. In some cases, the guilty party will attempt to extort the other party by threatening to release content depicting the other person performing acts of a sexual nature.

The other part is related to what the guilty party wishes to receive from their target. They may ask the party to engage in sexual acts together.

They may also ask for sexually explicit photos and/or videos from the other person.

Sexual extortion is a class 3 felony if the parties involved are adults. If the party is under fifteen years of age, the crime is a class 2 felony. An individual convicted of sexual extortion of a minor could spend five to 15 years in prison.

Unlawful Disclosure of Images Depicting States of Nudity or Specific Sexual Activities

Releasing images featuring a person who is naked and/or performing some kind of sexual act can be a crime in the state of Arizona. The act of releasing those images becomes a crime when they meet certain conditions.

First, the person in the image must be identifiable. They may be identifiable through their likeness or other identifying details present in the picture.

Next, the person in the images must also have a reasonable expectation of privacy. If the image went to another person with the clear intent to be seen privately, it should not be released. The image taken by an electronic device like a smartphone does not change that.

Lastly, releasing the image becomes a crime if the person who did it had the intention of harming, harassing, threatening, or coercing the person in the picture.

As soon as it meets those conditions, the authorities can charge the person accused of disclosing the image with a crime. Releasing the images is typically a class 5 felony, but it becomes a class 4 felony if they use an electronic for the images.

One more thing to note here is that authorities can still charge a person with a crime even if they did not release the images. The mere act of threatening to release those pictures is a class 1 misdemeanor.


Last up is the sex crime known as voyeurism.

Voyeurism involves knowingly invading another person’s privacy without their knowledge to satisfy their sexual desires.

Invading their privacy in this context means photographing or recording them when they were not expecting to be photographed or recorded. The person being recorded or photographed must also be nude or partially nude, engaged in a sexual act, or urinating or defecating.

If the person in the picture or video also had their buttocks, genitalia, or their breasts exposed to the camera, that is also an act of voyeurism. Distributing the content produced from an act of voyeurism is a crime.

Voyeurism is a class 5 felony in Arizona. However, if the person in the photos and videos is recognizable, the crime elevates to a class 4 felony.

If you or someone you know has been the victim of a sex crime, you must seek justice right away. Reach out to us at the Schill Law Group and allow us to fight for justice in your case.

Fighting Assault with a Deadly Weapon Charges



Fighting Assault with a Deadly Weapon Charges

All kinds of things can happen in the heat of the moment. When emotions run high, tempers are flaring, and someone may do something they regret and find themselves saddled with a serious charge such as assault with a deadly weapon in the aftermath of it all.

You could be the person who ends up charged with that serious offense. Do not lose heart because you get charged, though. There are ways to prove your innocence and fight those charges.

In this article, we will go deeper into the topic of assault as it is defined by Arizona law. We will also highlight the potential defenses you and your lawyer can use as the case heads to trial.

Stay tuned and see how you can effectively combat the charges against you.

What Is Assault in the State of Arizona?

You probably have a general understanding of what constitutes the crime of assault already. Even so, it is worth taking the time to define it clearly. Doing that could help when it comes time for you to put forth your defense.

According to the state of Arizona, a person commits assault when specific conditions are met.

Assault by Intentionally, Knowingly, and Recklessly Injuring Someone

First off, the accused’s mindset must be accounted for when determining their guilt or innocence. The prosecutor must show that the defendant in the case knowingly harmed another person. The presence of that knowledge is crucial and could be a potential swing factor in the case.

On top of the defendant knowingly harming another person, the prosecution must also prove that there was clear intent behind what happened. The lack of intent could weaken the prosecution’s case significantly.

If the incident in question is an accident, then suddenly, it becomes difficult to describe it as an intentional act committed by the defendant. However, if the defendant was acting recklessly when they injured the other party, they can be charged with assault.

Assault by Threatening Someone

A person can also be found guilty of committing assault if they put another person in a position where they will be physically injured. Basically, if you are threatening someone and they have fair reason to believe you will hurt them, they can charge you with assault.

Assault by Insulting or Provoking Someone

The crime of assault is not limited to only physically hurting or threatening someone. If you touched another person with the intent of either insulting or provoking them, that can be considered a form of assault.

The Penalties for Committing Assault in Arizona

The types of assault described above are considered misdemeanor offenses in Arizona. The nature of the assault committed will determine what penalties will be assessed to the defendant.

If you injured someone, authorities could charge you with a class 1 misdemeanor. That charge carries a maximum six-month jail sentence, probation, community service, and fines.

Threatening another person is considered a class 2 misdemeanor. The penalties for class 1 and class 2 misdemeanors remain mostly similar, with the jail sentence maxing out at four months and lower fines being the most notable differences.

Lastly, assault stemming from insulting or provoking someone is a class 3 misdemeanor. Class 3 misdemeanors have a maximum jail sentence of thirty days, lower fines, as well as probation, and community service.

Defining Assault with a Deadly Weapon in Arizona

There are many forms of aggravated assault in the state of Arizona.

Aggravated assault takes place whenever one person seriously injures another. Injuring someone after entering their home is another example of aggravated assault. Officials may also charge you with aggravated assault if you are over eighteen years of age and the person you harmed is under fifteen years of age.

You also have cases involving the usage of a deadly weapon. The definition is broader than that as actions committed with a “deadly weapon” or a “dangerous instrument” can be considered examples of aggravated assault.

Actions such as intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly injuring someone, threatening someone, or insulting or provoking someone, become aggravated forms of assault once those are involved.

The Penalties for Assault with a Deadly Weapon in Arizona

The penalties you could potentially face if you are guilty of committing assault with a deadly weapon in Arizona can change depending on who was the victim in your case.

In cases where both parties are over eighteen years of age, assault with a deadly weapon is considered a class 3 felony. Class 3 felonies carry substantial fines and prison time for guilty parties.

The minimum sentence for a class 3 felony is two and a half years in prison, while the presumptive sentence sits at three and a half years. If you are handed the maximum sentence, you could be looking at spending the next seven years in prison.

It is also worth noting that your prison sentence could end up even longer if they find aggravating factors in your case. Those aggravating factors can cause the maximum prison sentence to end up at eight years and nine months.

Assault with a deadly weapon can be upgraded to a class 2 felony if the victim in your case is a prosecutor, a peace officer, or someone under fifteen years of age. As you have probably guessed, the penalties are even harsher for class 2 felonies.

You are looking at a minimum of four years in prison if you are guilty of a class 2 felony. The presumptive prison sentence also jumps up to five years, while the maximum sentence is ten years.

Aggravating factors can again increase the maximum prison sentence for a class 2 felony. The maximum prison sentence for that becomes twelve and a half years.

Possible Defenses against Assault with a Deadly Weapon Charges

We now know that an aggravated assault conviction can land you in prison for a long time. Fighting against false or erroneous charges is always a must, but that becomes even more important when you can potentially lose more than a decade of your life.

You must work with only the best lawyers to put together a solid defense against those charges. Detailed below are some of the more common defenses used by those accused of committing assault with a deadly weapon.

You Were Acting under Duress

The concept of being under duress can work as an effective defense against assault charges. Arizona law describes the state of being under duress as one where another party has either threatened or already used physical force against you.

In that situation, you would be justified for thinking that you were in immediate danger. You can justify your instinct to respond with force in that situation can also.

You should also know that the under-duress defense works even if you were not necessarily protecting yourself. It can still be a defense if you were defending another person who was either being threatened or harmed.

Still, there are limits to the under-duress defense.

For instance, this defense will no longer apply if it is determined that you intentionally and knowingly put yourself in a position where you were likely to be put under duress. Your actions should also be proportionate to the type of threat you were facing. If you seriously injured or even killed the other party, this defense will no longer stand.

Your Use of Force Was Justified

There are situations where the use of physical force is no longer considered excessive. Instead, the law may regard your use of force to be justified.

A situation such as that may come up if you are working security at an event. The crowd may become unruly, and you may have reason to believe that things could get out of hand if you do not do something soon. In that situation, you could justify your use of physical force.

Arizona also gives citizens permission to use physical force if they believe that another party is about to commit suicide. You can use physical force to stop that individual in question from going through with their suicide attempt.

You Are a Victim of Domestic Violence

Domestic violence has long been a persistent plague upon society. It destroys relationships, families, and lives.

Anyone who has been the victim of domestic violence has likely experienced an unimaginable amount of trauma. Victims of domestic violence may eventually reach a breaking point. Upon reaching that point, they may use force against their abuser.

In cases where there is a history of domestic violence, the victim assaulting their abuser can be justified.

You Were Protecting Your Property

The use of physical force can also be justified if it is determined that you were acting to protect your property.

For instance, you may have spotted someone trying to break into your car. After seeing the assailant, you decide to act by physically restraining or perhaps hitting them. You can justify your actions in defense of your vehicle.

Store owners can also cite this defense if they spot burglars near their property. The use of the weapon can easily be justified, especially if you spotted multiple assailants.

Using a deadly weapon can also be justified if someone breaks into your home. Pointing a gun at the would-be burglar is not considered assault because they were unlawfully on your property with the intent of committing a crime.

You Were Stopping a Criminal

Police officers are the ones tasked with keeping communities safe. However, they cannot always be everywhere.

There could be a time when you witness a potential criminal act in progress. Do not let your fear of prosecution deter you from acting.

Private citizens can use physical force if necessary if they believe that someone is committing a crime. If you see someone trying to kidnap a child, sexually assault someone, or harm another person in any other way, you can use force to stop them.

You can also use physical force if you suspect that someone is about to set a home or building on fire.

You Were Not Using a Dangerous Instrument

Different items can be deadly weapons. Those items include firearms, bladed weapons, and blunt weapons. It is tough to make the case that you are not guilty of committing aggravated assault if it is proven that you used a weapon on another person.

Now, there is a grayer area if you are accused of wielding a dangerous instrument.

By definition, a dangerous instrument is any item that can cause serious physical injury or death under certain circumstances. That is vague, and it leaves a lot open to interpretation.

Many household items can pose serious injury to another person if used a certain way. It is possible that one of them can be a dangerous instrument.

You should argue then that the item in question was not a dangerous instrument while you were using it. Make the case that you were simply defending yourself and had no intention of inflicting any serious harm using the item.

Other Defenses That Can Be Used in Assault Cases

In addition to the potential defenses detailed above, you and your lawyer can also highlight other factors that could nullify the charges against you.

If you believe that your rights were violated during the investigation, you can point to that as a reason why the case should not proceed. You can also use a lack of solid evidence as a potential defense.

Negotiating with the Other Party

This is not necessarily a defense, but it is one way to avoid a possible aggravated assault charge. While negotiating with the other party, they may present you with a plea agreement.

In exchange for you admitting guilt in the case, they may agree to reduce the charge from a felony to a misdemeanor.

Consider your options carefully before deciding if accepting a plea agreement is the right move in your case. Consulting with an experienced lawyer is a must in that scenario.

Start working on your defense against an assault with a deadly weapon charge by partnering with us at the Schill Law Group. Contact us today, let us know about your case, and allow us to provide the legal assistance you need.