Assault2018-10-05T18:56:40+00:00

What is Misdemeanor Assault in Arizona?

– – Today we’re talking about misdemeanor assault in Arizona.

There are several different ways that you can be charged with assault and have it classified as a misdemeanor and we’re gonna talk about it.

Normally, in these white board videos I will have the statute detailed out.

We’re not gonna do that today.

Today with the help of these two stick figures, one named Paul, who I may or may not know, and one named Robert.

And what we’re gonna do is we’re going to talk about how there may be an interaction between these two fictional individuals and how one may assault the other. So, before we dive into it, let’s remember, in Arizona, there are three different categories of misdemeanor offenses, you have three classifications.

Class one, class two, and class three.

For a class one, that’s gonna be the most serious, that’s at the very top, that’s like DUIs, most domestic violence and assault offenses are in that range, but you also have a class two which is in the middle, and then you have a class three, which is the lowest.

So, let’s remember that. There are different ways that you can assault somebody and they fall within different categories.

So, let’s look at the diagram and I already have some lines here and some different ways that we’re going to discuss how Paul might be able to assault Robert.

And so let’s start at the low end of the misdemeanor spectrum, so, let’s start with what could be considered a class three misdemeanor version of assault.

And I have that right here.

So, let’s say that Paul and Robert are out in a bar or they’re out doing something together or they’re at home or whatever it is they’re doing.

Paul decides that he wants to provoke Robert and so we can see here for the class three, Paul takes his arm, takes his hand, and pokes Robert in the chest, which is totally unacceptable.

But, if Paul does that, that would meet the elements of the statute. So, if Paul’s poking Robert and basically trying to provoke him, trying to get a rise out of him, that would meet the elements of the assault for a class three and so I have those here.

Class three when you’re touching somebody with the intent to provoke them or offend them.

That could be a class three version of assault, okay. Class two, so class two is a different type of an assault, there may or may not actually be any physical touching happening, but if Paul is doing that same thing or he’s in that same scenario and he starts mouthing off to Robert and he starts saying, you know, this about your mother, this about your sister, or whatever he tends to say in these types of situations, and the purpose of that is to place Robert in fear or in apprehension of some imminent physical contact, if Paul’s saying, I’m going to beat you, I’m going to hit you, I’m going to do something like that and it’s reasonable for Robert to be in fear, if it’s reasonable for him to be afraid of that or to be fearing for his physical safety, that can be a class two assault, all right.

And so the elements of that are placing another person in imminent, in fear of imminent physical injury. And so, if Paul’s in that same type of a situation and he’s making those types of statements, that could be a class two level of assault. The most serious is a class one, okay. And that will happen when there is actual physical contact.

So, if Paul actually takes this right hook and makes contact with Robert’s face and causes injury, which is quite frankly unlikely to happen because Paul is a weaker and more ineffective individual, but if, in some rare circumstance, that did actually cause injury to Robert, Paul could be charged with a class one version of assault, so the elements of that are actually causing physical injury.

As I said, it’s very unlikely that Paul could ever do that to Robert, but in the event that that happened, Paul could be charged with a class one assault.

So, those are really the three main ways that we see that happen and they will range from a class three all the way up to a class one and the penalties, of course, are different depending on what class of assault they are. So, for a class three the maximum penalty is 30 days, but for a class one, you could get up to six months in jail for that and the fines increase dramatically, as well.

So, let’s say again that there was some sort of scenario where Paul was able to successfully assault Robert and Paul does not want to be convicted of an assault, he does not want to have that on his record.

Well, let’s talk about the defenses. So, how do we defend against these situations in court? Well, there’s a couple of different ways.

So, the big number one way that we defend against these is we wanna look at the availability of the witness. So, let’s say Paul is being charged with assault and Robert, being his good, loyal friend, doesn’t really wanna have any involvement.

Robert doesn’t wanna prosecute him. Robert doesn’t want to go to court. Robert doesn’t wanna testify against him.

Robert knows that Paul has a bit of a temper and sometimes, you know, reacts outrageously at times and so he just want to ignore this and forget about it. Well, that comes down the the availability of a witness, okay, so if Robert’s not going to be there, Robert is technically the victim of Paul’s assault upon him, and if Robert’s not gonna be there and be involved in the prosecution against him, there may not be anybody else who can testify to what happened, so Robert would not be there to testify that he was injured or that he felt that he was going to be in imminent physical injury, or have imminent physical injury placed upon him or he doesn’t feel like there was any danger at all or he can’t substantiate that there was, in fact, some sort of a touching, if Robert’s not gonna be there in trial to testify about that and there’s no officers around or there’s no other third party witnesses or there’s nobody else who can testify, then this case may not go anywhere, okay, because there are certain rules about what people can say in court and what they can’t say in court.

So, if Robert’s not around, this case may be decided simply on the inavailability of a witness to testify against Paul and so we see that happen a lot.

A lot of these assaults are scuffles, the witnesses are not going to be testifying. We may not even know exactly who they are or they may live out of state or they may be a friend or a loved one or somebody who recognizes that this whole thing was just kind of a big misunderstanding and they don’t wanna be involved in it.

So, if that person’s not there to testify and nobody else can independently establish that this assault actually occurred, the case might be dismissed on that or be negotiated down pretty significantly.

The other way that we attack these or we address the mens rea, so the, so, what I talked about here is different ways that there’s physical contact or there’s some sort of action that took place, meaning there was a poke on the chest or a poke on the shoulder, there was some verbal language happening, or there was a physical right hook or some sort of contact that actually caused injury.

Those are all acts, but those acts have to take place with the appropriate knowledge or with some sort of recklessness or with some sort of intent. So, you have an act and then you have a mental state and it’s called mens rea in criminal law.

So, if this was a total accident, meaning there was no intention for this contact to occur, well, that may not meet the elements of the class three assault. And so if you can show that Paul was not, in fact, acting recklessly or Paul did not intend or knowingly do any of these things, maybe he bumped into him that caused the injury or he was pushed by somebody else who caused the injury.

If there was not that proper mental state to do that act, you can defeat the assault charge, okay. The other thing that we also look into is what are called affirmative defenses. So, if for some unforeseeable reason, Robert was actually instigating this type of interaction between the two, and Paul was just defending himself, meaning Robert was the one who actually provoked the incident, Robert was making the threats against Paul and then Paul was, or Robert started swinging at Paul but then Paul was throwing punches back, that could be self defense and that’s a defense that the defense, so Paul being charged, he has to raise that and he has to prove that and there’s a certain legal procedure that you have to go through to do that.

But that could be a defense to Paul’s assault, okay. And a lot of the ways that we get these cases resolved is by negotiating it down, getting some sort of a deal with the prosecutor’s office, where the case will ultimately be reduced down to something that’s non-criminal, many jurisdictions offer what’s called diversion, meaning if Paul takes some much needed anger management classes or does something like community service to give back to the community, Robert may agree that this type of a case, this type of a situation warrants a dismissal.

And so, a lot of the time we can negotiate those out when the defense gets involved, we have to raise these other elements or these other defenses and say, we’re of course not gonna be accepting a guilty plea to anything in this case, so if you want, Mister Prosecutor, Missus Prosecutor, if you want to not lose the case entirely, we’re happy to meet you in the middle and we can negotiate some sort of a resolution, presuming that it gets Paul’s interests met, meaning Paul doesn’t have a criminal conviction, Paul doesn’t have to do something like an astronomical amount of community service hours or something like that, that may be a good outcome as well. So, those are the defenses.

So, just a quick summary, these are kind of the three ways that you see assault happen. These are the common defenses.

Now, I diagrammed it this way because, of course, it’s a little bit easier to interpret and to convey how this works in this manner over video. But it, and there are some jokes, kind of interspersed through this video, but I don’t wanna mince words, being charged with assault is a very serious offense and it is something that can permanently stay in your record.

It is something that can follow you around for a very long time, impact your ability to find employment, impact, you know, your professional licenses and those types of things and so, it really is not a joking matter if you have been charged with assault and you need some professional representation and you need a team of people who are gonna help you fight back against the charge, give our office a call.

We work with these all the time.

We only do criminal defense law, we don’t do anything else. And so, we’re happy to sit down with you, give you a free case evaluation, review some of your options, and make sure that you have a very strong plan in place to protect your record and protect your future.

Thanks for watching.

In Arizona, assault can be classified as either a misdemeanor or felony. Misdemeanor assault is defined by Arizona Revised Statutes 13-1203(A) which states the following:

“A. A person commits assault by:

  1. Intentionally, knowingly or recklessly causing any physical injury to another person; or
  2. Intentionally placing another person in reasonable apprehension of imminent physical injury; or
  3. Knowingly touching another person with the intent to injure, insult or provoke such person.”

With this definition, misdemeanor assault can be broken down into four (4) different types.

Below, we will discuss the four types of misdemeanor assault, the elements the State must prove beyond a reasonable doubt, and specific defenses/penalties for each.

It is also important to note that when the alleged assault occurs between a couple or people who live together, it may be considered “domestic violence.”

A domestic violence allegation with an assault will carry added penalties and complications which must be addressed early in the case.

Misdemeanor Assault Charge Scale in Arizona

Class 1 Assault: 13-1203(A)(1) – Intentionally or Knowingly – Class One (1) Misdemeanor

Arizona Revised Statutes (ARS) define “intentionally” in ARS 13-105(10)(a) – “‘Intentionally’ or ‘with the intent to’ means, with respect to a result or to conduct described by a statute defining an offense, that a person’s objective is to cause that result or to engage in that conduct.”

Similarly, “knowingly” is defined in ARS 13-105(10)(b) and states the following-

“‘[k]nowingly’ means, with respect to conduct or to a circumstance described by a statute defining an offense, that a person is aware or believes that the person’s conduct is of that nature or that the circumstance exists. It does not require any knowledge of the unlawfulness of the act or omission.”

Therefore, it is important to note that the mental state required for this offense goes directly to the conduct.

Here, the conduct would be causing a physical injury to another person.

It does not matter whether you knew the conduct was illegal.

For the State to effectively build and win a case against you for this charge, they must therefore bring evidence of your knowledge and/or intent.

The State will attempt to establish your mental state at the time of the incident through witnesses, conversations, audio/video, prior contact, etc.

Ultimately, however, rules of evidence and case precedent will dictate which information can be presented at trial (i.e. confrontation clause, right to confront, etc.)

When is Assault considered “intentionally” or “knowingly”?

The specific circumstances of your case will define whether the alleged assault was committed intentionally or knowingly.

More importantly, a defense for this allegation is built by showing that the other person’s physical injury was NOT done intentionally or with knowledge.

What are the penalties for Class 1 Assault?

A Class 1 Misdemeanor conviction can carry a maximum penalty of six (6) months jail and $2500 in fines plus probation.

The severity of the offense and contributing circumstances (and allegation) are what will shape the State’s recommended sentence and the judge’s final imposition.

Also, if this offense is designated as a domestic violence (DV) offense, there will be additional counseling requirements with a conviction.

Class 2 Assault: 13-1203(A)(1) – Recklessly – Class One (2) Misdemeanor

What is Considered “Recklessly”?

A.R.S. 13-105(c) defines recklessly as:

“’Recklessly’ means, with respect to a result or to a circumstance described by a statute defining an offense, that a person is aware of and consciously disregards a substantial and unjustifiable risk that the result will occur or that the circumstance exists. The risk must be of such nature and degree that disregard of such risk constitutes a gross deviation from the standard of conduct that a reasonable person would observe in the situation. A person who creates such a risk but who is unaware of such risk solely by reason of voluntary intoxication also acts recklessly with respect to such risk.”

Therefore, a “reasonable person” standard must be set and appropriately presented to the State, judge, or jury.

Depending on the specific circumstances of you case, your defense will built by evaluating what other would or have done in similar situations and why the allegations presented in the police report may not be as straightforward as they may seem.

What are the penalties for Class 2 Assault charges?

A Class 2 Misdemeanor conviction can carry a maximum penalty of up to four (4) months of jail, a fine of up to $750 plus surcharges, and possibly probation.

The severity of the offense and contributing circumstances (and allegation) are what will shape the State’s recommended sentence and the judge’s final imposition.

Also, if this offense is designated as a domestic violence (DV) offense, there will be additional counseling requirements with a conviction.

13-1203(A)(2) – Intentionally Placing/Reasonable Apprehension – Class Two (2) Misdemeanor

This statute is also a Class 2 Misdemeanor and carries the same penalties as above.

13-1203(A)(3) – Knowingly Touching – Class Three (3) Misdemeanor

When is it Considered “Knowingly”?

1. “Knowingly” is defined in ARS 13-105(10)(b) and states the following- “‘[k]nowingly’ means, with respect to conduct or to a circumstance described by a statute defining an offense, that a person is aware or believes that the person’s conduct is of that nature or that the circumstance exists. It does not require any knowledge of the unlawfulness of the act or omission.”

What are the Penalties?

1. A Class 3 Misdemeanor conviction can carry a maximum penalty of up to 30 days of jail, a fine of up to $500 plus surcharges, up to 1 year of probation.

The severity of the offense and contributing circumstances (and allegation) are what will shape the State’s recommended sentence and the judge’s final imposition.

Also, if this offense is designated as a domestic violence (DV) offense, there will be additional counseling requirements with a conviction.

Many persons accused of misdemeanor assault in Arizona may not face any jail time or fines.

The prosecuting attorney and judge may agree to place the accused in a pretrial diversion program. The person may have to attend an anger management class, a substance abuse class or perform community service.

However, the potential of jail time and fines will hang over the accused person’s head until the court is satisfied the accused has completed the class or community service as ordered by the court.

Such programs may only be offered if you are willing to plead guilty to the crime.

That means you may have a conviction on your record unless the court agrees to dismiss the case upon completion of the programs. Moreover, something may go wrong and you, the accused, are unable to complete the program.

A guilty plea to an assault charge just simply may not be part of your life’s plans.

You may be falsely accused of the crime, were defending yourself or there may have been case of mistaken identity. In these cases, you want an expert criminal defense lawyer to represent you.

General Information: