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.