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.
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:
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.
Some common examples of assaults include:
Aggravated assault may look like:
Simple assaults typically lead to misdemeanor charges, while aggravated assaults often result in felony charges.
The law creates three classifications for misdemeanor assault charges:
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.
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.
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:
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.
Unlike misdemeanor assault charges, the five classifications of felony aggravated assault charges include:
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.
A simple assault can also become a felony aggravated assault if you face charges for assaulting a protected civil official, including:
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.
Yes, you can serve jail time for misdemeanor and felony charges. This is especially true if it’s a second or subsequent offense.
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:
With one other previous felony offense, you could face:
With two or more felony offenses, you could face:
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.
Those 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.
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.
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:
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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