Phoenix Assault Lawyer

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The criminal justice system issues consequences for those who harm and endanger others. In Arizona, those who commit an assault can face misdemeanor or felony charges depending on the severity of the assault, physical harm to the victim, and other factors like the victim’s age and the offender’s prior criminal history.

If you understand how Arizona charges those who commit assault you can stay better informed during the process. For example, by knowing the different classifications of charges, you’ll have a better idea of the consequences you may face. Understanding assault charges in Arizona can also help you collaborate with your criminal defense attorney to seek the best possible outcome for your case.
Phoenix assault attorney

What Qualifies as Assault in Arizona?

In general, an assault refers to when someone harms or threatens to harm another person. From the victim’s standpoint, it’s an intentional act or threat that makes them feel like they face a danger of being harmed.

Assault may refer to any of the following, per Arizona law:

  • Intentionally, recklessly, or knowingly injuring someone
  • Intentionally endangering someone in a way that could lead to physical injury
  • Knowingly making contact with someone with the aim of physically harming, provoking, or insulting them

Someone doesn’t need to physically injure a victim for an attack, threat, or attempted attack to constitute assault. The prosecution must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the alleged assaulter’s actions met the above-listed qualifications.

A simple assault could constitute aggravated assault, also called battery, if a victim suffers serious physical harm, the offender uses a deadly weapon, or under other circumstances. Arizona law describes several acts that could constitute an aggravated assault.

Examples of Assault

Some common examples of assaults include:

  • Shoving a person
  • Making threatening gestures with fists or a flat hand as if to slap
  • A verbal threat to harm and gestures of violence
  • Grabbing someone
  • Touching someone inappropriately with the intent to harm sexually
  • A failed attempt to do harm

Aggravated assault may look like:

  • Choking another person, damaging their windpipe and leaving bruises
  • Punching or slapping someone, leaving marks or breaking their bones
  • A break-in, threatening the victim with a deadly weapon
  • A successful attempt to do physical harm

Types of Assault Charges in Arizona

Simple assaults typically lead to misdemeanor charges, while aggravated assaults often result in felony charges.

The law creates three classifications for misdemeanor assault charges:

  • Class 3 Misdemeanor Assault: When an offender knowingly touches another person with the intent to provoke or injure. The victim may not have injuries. The sentencing guidelines include no more than 30 days in jail and a fine of no more than $500.
  • Class 2 Misdemeanor Assault: When an offender intentionally forces another person into a situation in which they feel fear of experiencing harm. This charge comes with a maximum sentence of 4 months in jail and a fine of up to $750.
  • Class 1 Misdemeanor Assault: When an offender intentionally, knowingly or recklessly causes any physical injury to another person. This charge comes with a maximum sentence of 6 months in jail and a fine of no more than $2,500.

As you can see, Class 1 is the most serious form of misdemeanor, and Class 3 comes with the least severe consequences. First-time offenders may prove more likely to get Class 3 misdemeanor charges, depending on the scope of the victim’s physical harm.

Differences Between First-Time, Second-Time, and Subsequent Assault Charges

First-time offenses for misdemeanor and felony assault charges typically mean that you will have more pull with the court to get a lesser sentence. You could also have the chance to pursue alternative programs that involve counseling and probation instead of jail time. You could see your charges reduced or dropped, depending on the seriousness of the assault.

However, if you have a history of previous assaults, the court will likely see your case differently. Second-time offenses may result in more serious penalties than what someone got for their first offense. As a result, you may have fewer opportunities to get leniency or have your charges dropped. Subsequent offenses for misdemeanor and felony assaults will likely result in jail time, more time on probation, higher fines, and few opportunities to get lesser charges or have them dropped altogether.

A criminal defense lawyer can apply Arizona law to your assault case to maintain the integrity of the investigation process, present evidence for your side of the story, and ensure you receive just penalties.

Is Assault a Felony Charge in Arizona?

Yes, assault can be a felony charge in Arizona. You may face a misdemeanor assault or a simple assault charge if your actions didn’t cause serious physical harm or you face charges for attempted assault.

An assault becomes a felony when it’s aggravated assault. This generally refers to an assault that results in serious physical harm or an assault using a deadly weapon or another object.

The following include some elements of an assault that qualify the crime as an aggravated assault:

  • The victim suffers serious physical injury.
  • The alleged perpetrator used a deadly weapon or used another object as a weapon.
  • The victim suffers temporary but serious disfigurement, including fractures, or an impaired body part, including an organ or limb.
  • The offender binds the victim during the assault.
  • The alleged perpetrator enters the victim’s private residence to commit the assault.
  • The victim is 15 years old or younger.
  • The victim was under an order of protection against the alleged perpetrator.

Remember that even if a victim does not suffer physical harm, you may still face charges for an assault. If a minor victim does not suffer physical harm, you may still face aggravated assault charges.

Charges for Felony Aggravated Assault

Unlike misdemeanor assault charges, the five classifications of felony aggravated assault charges include:

  • Class 5 Felony
  • Class 4 Felony
  • Class 3 Felony
  • Class 2 Felony

The most serious aggravated assault charge is a Class 2 Felony. A Class 1 Felony is a first- or second-degree murder charge.

Note that these classifications are for first-time offenders. You could face charges of a Class 2 or 3 felony if you have a history of previous felony convictions for violent crimes.

If You Face Charges of Assaulting a Civil Official

A simple assault can also become a felony aggravated assault if you face charges for assaulting a protected civil official, including:

  • Police officer
  • Firefighter or fire investigator
  • Healthcare provider
  • Judge
  • Prosecutor, public defender, or another court official
  • Teacher
  • Park ranger
  • Peace officer
  • Constable

You may also face aggravated assault charges if you attempt to or successfully gain control over a city official’s firearm or another defensive weapon. That includes a peace officer, a police officer, or a park ranger.

Can You Go to Jail for Assault in Arizona?

Yes, you can serve jail time for misdemeanor and felony charges. This is especially true if it’s a second or subsequent offense.

How Long Can You Go to Jail for Assault in Arizona?

Depending on the classification of a misdemeanor, you could face a few days or up to six months in jail.

According to Arizona law, felony charges for first-time offenses include:

  • Class 6 Felony: Between 1.5 and 3 years of prison time
  • Class 5 Felony: Between 2 and 4 years in prison
  • Class 4 Felony: Between 4 and 8 years in prison
  • Class 3 Felony: Between 5 and 15 years in prison
  • Class 2 Felony: Between 7 and 21 years in prison

With one other previous felony offense, you could face:

  • Class 6 Felony: Between 3 and 4.5 years in prison
  • Class 5 Felony: Between 4 and 6 years in prison
  • Class 4 Felony: Between 8 and 12 years in prison

With two or more felony offenses, you could face:

  • Class 6 Felony: Between 4.5 and 6 years in prison
  • Class 5 Felony: Between 6 and 8 years in prison
  • Class 4 Felony: Between 12 and 16 years in prison

However, if you have a history of previous felony offenses and face charges of a Class 2 or Class 3 aggravated assault, you may face between 15 and 35 years in prison.

A criminal defense lawyer can work with the prosecution and the court to get you a just sentence, negotiate a plea bargain for a lesser charge, or get the charges dropped.

What Other Penalties Exist for Assault Charges?

Phoenix assault lawyerThose who receive charges of a misdemeanor—or a felony, in some cases—have more opportunities to take advantage of alternative programs instead of jail time. These programs aim to provide counseling and social services to help people change their lives and avoid getting caught up in the criminal justice system. Some programs include anger management, domestic abuse counseling, mental health resources, drug and alcohol treatment, and more.

First-time offenders and those at risk of becoming repeat offenders can have access to many of these programs Several counties in Arizona have diversion programs for misdemeanor charges.

Find details for select programs below:

A criminal defense lawyer could seek probation for you instead of jail time for some lower-classification charges. Nearly all misdemeanor and felony charges result in the offender paying fines, though a lawyer could work with the court to avoid you having to pay excessive fines. For higher-classification charges, you may need to pay restitution to a victim.

You could plead guilty to get a lesser charge and/or reduced sentencing with a plea bargain. In some cases, a criminal defense attorney can also fight to have a conviction dropped from your record after you serve time.

Can Authorities Drop Assault Charges in Arizona?

Yes, in some cases, misdemeanor assault charges can be dropped if the prosecution does not have enough evidence to prove that you committed assault per the charge. If the prosecution believes that the court will find you not guilty, they may drop the charge. This often occurs in domestic violence assault cases, as it can prove challenging for the prosecution to gather enough solid evidence to show the assault occurred.

A criminal defense lawyer can also help you get your misdemeanor assault charges dropped. By refuting the prosecution’s claims, pointing out holes in the prosecution’s evidence, and demonstrating your character, an attorney could convince the prosecution to drop the case.

It’s much harder to get felony assault charges dropped. Again, the prosecution may drop the charges if they lack sufficient evidence to prove that the assault occurred. They may reduce the charges to a misdemeanor if they have evidence of an assault but not enough evidence to support a felony conviction. An attorney can, again, point out weaknesses in the evidence to show that a would-be felony charge could become a misdemeanor.

Common Defenses for Arizona Assault Cases

A criminal defense lawyer can use several possible defenses to prove your innocence or demonstrate your character to reduce the sentence or charges.

Possible defenses for assault cases, including misdemeanor and felony charges, include:

  • Self-defense: If the person was about to attack or harm you, you could claim you acted in self-defense.
  • Fear of being harmed: If you harm someone out of fear of being attacked or assaulted, your actions could constitute a form of self-defense. A criminal defense lawyer can demonstrate how you feared for your life, were afraid that the other person was going to attack you, or that the other person threatened violence against you.
  • Defense of others: If you prevent an attack or assault on another person by hitting, pushing, or otherwise harming the would-be attacker, you could say that you acted in defense of another.
  • Victim credibility issues: A criminal defense lawyer can gather evidence and demonstrate that a victim or witness filed a false report, the victim has a history of claiming violence with no evidence, or other credibility issues.
  • Accident: It’s only assault when the perpetrator knows that they are putting another person in harm’s way when they commit an act. Alternatively, they must know that they’re disregarding reasonable care and acting recklessly, and thus, could harm someone. A criminal defense attorney may argue that you did not intend to or did not know that you could harm another person, and you accidentally injured the victim.

The defense a Phoenix criminal defense attorney chooses for your case depends on the type of alleged assault, characteristics of the victim and the physical harm they endured, and whether you have a history of violent crimes. Contact Gurion Legal today to discuss your options and determine the best course of action for your situation.

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