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Overview of Assault Charges in Arizona

States decide what conduct constitutes a crime. As you might expect, assault is against the law in every state. You often see or hear “assault and battery” linked together as if they are the same thing. Typically, assault is the intentional threat of harm, and battery is the act of harming someone. A person accused of either may face criminal charges as well as a civil lawsuit.

In Arizona the Assault statute combines both assault and battery. The laws involving assault and aggravated assault become complicated depending on the circumstances. Assault charges in Arizona are consider to be a misdemeanor. Aggravated assault charges are a felony. Still, both are serious crimes in Arizona, and someone charged with either crime should seek legal counsel.

Arizona’s Misdemeanor Assault Laws

You don’t have to physically harm someone to be guilty of assault. ARS 13-1203 is the Arizona statute that details assault charges. A person commits a misdemeanor assault when they:

  1. Cause any physical injury to someone on purpose or recklessly; or
  2. Purposefully makes someone reasonably concerned — scared — that they are in danger of imminent bodily injury; or
  3. Deliberately touches someone to injure, insult, or provoke them.

Assaults committed on purpose, according to #1 above, are class 1 misdemeanors. A reckless assault, as stated in #1, or an assault described by #2, is a class 2 misdemeanor. Finally, #3 is a class 3 misdemeanor.


Sentencing for Misdemeanor Assault

There are three classes of misdemeanors under Arizona law. The description of these classes appears in statute ARS 13-707. The maximum jail sentence for each class is as follows:

  • 6 months for class 1 misdemeanor;
  • 4 months for class 2 misdemeanor; and
  • 30 days for class 3 misdemeanor.

All of these also carry potential fines and probation.

Arizona’s Felony Assault Laws

The classification of felony assault is in Arizona statutes at ARS 13-1204. Under certain circumstances, a misdemeanor assault under ARS 13-1203 becomes a felony. The characteristics elevating a misdemeanor assault to a felony include:

  • The victim suffers severe physical injury.
  • The assailant uses a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument in the assault.
  • The assault results in a bone fracture, a significant, though temporary, disfigurement, or the temporary loss or damage of an organ.
  • The victim is bound or restrained and, therefore, cannot resist adequately.
  • The assault occurs in a private residence, and the assailant intends to commit the assault.
  • An assailant of a minor under fifteen years of age is eighteen years old or older.
  • The assault violates a protective order.
  • The assailant uses a simulated weapon.
  • The victim is choked on purpose or recklessly and within any circumstances regarding domestic violence, as found in ARS 13-3601.
  • And more.

Criminal convictions for Assault or Aggravated Assault will stay on your record forever. While Arizona does not allow for the expungement of criminal convictions, petitioning the court for a set-aside may be an option.

Felony Assault Charges Against Specific Persons

A person commits a felony assault under ARS 13-1204 if they commit an assault and know or should know that the victim is any of the following:

  • Firefighter, emergency medical technician, doctor, etc.;
  • Schoolteacher;
  • Health care practitioner, unless the person committing the assault is mentally ill or has Alzheimer’s or dementia;
  • Prosecutor, public defender, code enforcement officer, state or municipal ranger, a judicial officer engaged in official duties; and
  • Police officer, on or off duty, or someone under an officer’s direction.

It is felony assault to attempt to take control of a peace officer’s firearm or any other weapon the officer is trying to use if the assailant knows or should know that the victim is a peace officer.

A misdemeanor assault can also become a felony when the assailant is imprisoned in or in the custody of the following:

  • The state department of corrections;
  • The department of juvenile corrections;
  • Any law enforcement agency;
  • A county or city jail for adults or juveniles; or
  • Any detention facility, whether operated privately, by a county, city, or the federal bureau of prisons.

One difference between a simple assault and a felony assault is the severity of the punishment. A first conviction for felony assault can result in class 2 to a class 5 felony.

Felonies carry the potential for substantial prison time, probation, and hefty fines, not to mention other consequences like inability to find work, get certain licenses, or being able to find a place to live.

Simple and felony assault are tricky areas of the law. Circumstances can dramatically alter the outcome. That is why it is essential to have an experienced criminal attorney who thoroughly understands the law and has argued such cases in front of a judge and jury.

What Are My Defenses to Assault Charges?

Sometimes the difference between prison and probation or having charges dropped altogether is a good defense. There are many avenues to a good defense.

Finding justification defenses requires examining the evidence, working closely with the client, and examining witnesses, if any. Only after your defense attorney gathers all the evidence does a strategy take shape.

Possible defenses available include:

  • Self-defense — You are justified to use threats, physical force, and even deadly force to protect yourself from someone using physical force against you.
  • In defense of another — Just as with self-defense, you are justified to use threats, physical force, and deadly force to protect a third person.
  • In defense of property — When circumstances warrant, you can use threats of physical force against someone to stop their criminal trespass. The law allows the use of threats of deadly physical force. The use of deadly physical force is only justified when protecting yourself or a third person.
  • To prevent a crime — You are justified to threaten or use physical force or deadly physical force to prevent the following offenses: arson of an occupied structure; first or second-degree burglary; kidnapping; manslaughter; first or second-degree murder; sexual conduct with a minor; sexual assault; child molestation; armed robbery; or felony assault.
  • Duress — If you were compelled under threat of physical violence to commit the offense.
  • Necessity — Your actions are necessary to avoid even greater public or private harm.

If there were witnesses, it is essential to identify and interview them. Whether they can testify for or against you, it is vital to know what they will say in court. Witnesses are rarely reliable because their memories are open to error and bias. They can miss or forget crucial details. It takes a skilled attorney to use witnesses — for or against the client — effectively.

Excellent and valuable defenses depend on possessing a depth of knowledge about the law and having the experience to apply it. That’s why you seek out a criminal defense attorney.

Call Gurion Legal for Your Free Consultation Today

You have a constitutional right to justice. When charged with a simple or felony assault, the best way — the only way — to protect your rights is to mount a vigorous defense.

Representation by an experienced and skilled assault attorney may be the best step in the right direction for you. To find out, visit Gurion Legal online at or call (480) 800-0020 to book your FREE consultation.

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