Assault Laws in Arizona: A.R.S. 13-1203

In Arizona, assault occurs when a person illegally commits physical harm or unwanted physical contact with another person. However, a person does not need to physically harm someone to be charged with assault. While other crimes like battery require the accused to cause physical harm to the victim, there is no requirement of actual contact with assault. Instead, a person could be charged with assault if they cause mental disturbance to a victim. Assault and battery are often charged together but are seen as two different crimes under Arizona law.

How Is Assault Defined in Arizona?

Assault is a common offense in Arizona and can carry severe penalties. There are varying degrees of assault, ranging from a class 1 to a class 3 misdemeanor. Under Arizona Revised Statutes (ARS) § 13-1203, a person has committed assault if they:

  • Knowingly, intentionally, or recklessly cause physical harm to another person.
  • Intentionally places another person in reasonable apprehension of imminent physical harm.
  • Knowingly touches another person with the intent to insult, injure, or provoke.

Depending on the details of the case, an assault could be elevated to an aggravated assault, resulting in more serious penalties.

What are the Three Classes of Misdemeanor Assault?

The penalties that a person may face if charged with assault will ultimately depend on the circumstances of the crime. The most common form of assault in Arizona is a simple assault. These crimes can range from a class 1 misdemeanor to a class 3 misdemeanor.

1. Class 1 Misdemeanor

A class 1 misdemeanor is the most serious type of misdemeanor offense. This crime requires the prosecution to prove that an injury actually occurred, which can range from mild bruising of the skin to a broken bone. If convicted of a class 1 misdemeanor in Arizona, a person could face a $2,500 fine plus surcharges, 3 years of probation, and up to 6 months in jail.

2. Class 2 Misdemeanor

A class 2 misdemeanor is the next most serious type of misdemeanor offense. This crime requires the prosecution to prove that the victim felt that he or she was in reasonable apprehension of imminent physical harm. This does not necessarily mean that physical contact was made between the two parties. If convicted of a class 2

misdemeanor, a person could face a $750 fine plus surcharges, 2 years of probation, and up to 4 months in jail.

3. Class 3 Misdemeanor

A class 3 misdemeanor is the lowest criminal offense but can still carry harsh penalties. With a class 3 misdemeanor, it was proven that the alleged offender touched another person with the intent to insult, injure, or provoke them. The prosecution does not need evidence that an injury occurred as intention alone is enough for a conviction. If charged with a class 3 misdemeanor, you could face a $500 fine plus surcharges, 1 year of probation, and up to 30 days in jail.

What are Some Defenses to Assault in Arizona?

Hiring an experienced criminal defense team is critical to fight back against criminal charges. While each case is unique, there are certain defenses that a criminal defense attorney may recommend in cases of assault.

One of the most common defenses to assault is self-defense or the defense of others. A defendant could argue that he or she was simply defending themselves or a loved one at the time of the incident. For this defense to be successful, the offender’s attorney must provide evidence that could help prove that the defendant was acting in self-defense or was trying to protect someone else who may be threatening to cause harm.

Another possible defense to assault is an alibi. When physical altercations occur between two or more parties that do not know one another, police may arrive at the scene and arrest anyone involved. The victim or a witness could misidentify the offender, resulting in the arrest of the wrong person. With an alibi, the alleged offender could prove that he or she was elsewhere when the crime took place.

Finally, a criminal defense attorney may recommend a defense that claims that the assault was an accident. The fact is that a physical injury could occur due to an accident and that the alleged offender should not be charged for a mistake. To be considered assault, the injury must have resulted from a reckless or intentional act, meaning the offender engaged in behavior that he or she knew would result in harm, even if harm was not the person’s intention.

What Is Aggravated Assault in Arizona?

When a simple assault is upgraded to an aggravated assault, the penalties become much harsher. An aggravated assault is a felony in Arizona and occurs when additional factors exist outside of those that align with a simple assault. Arizona may file an aggravated assault charge if the alleged offender caused serious injury to another person or used a dangerous weapon during the assault. Other factors include:

  • If force was used on the victim, resulting in temporary but substantial disfigurement, impairment, loss of a body organ, or a fracture.
  • If the crime was committed while the victim was restrained or unable to defend themselves due to impairment.
  • If the offender forcefully entered the home with the intention to assault a resident.
  • If the offender was 18 or older at the time of the assault and the victim was under the age of 15.
  • If the victim has a judicial restraining order against the offender.
  • If the victim was a public officer, such as an EMT, constable, peace officer, firefighter, park ranger, licensed healthcare practitioner, criminal prosecutor, public defender, teacher, school employee, or judicial officer, and the person was on duty at the time of the assault.

How a Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help

An assault charge in Arizona can have serious consequences. It is important to hire an experienced and capable criminal defense attorney who will fight on your behalf. If you have been charged with assault in Arizona, schedule a consultation with JacksonWhite Attorneys at Law.

Call the JacksonWhite Criminal Law team at (480) 467-4370 to discuss your case today.

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