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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.

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.