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Posted on October 28, 2020 in Assault

Assault And Battery Laws in Arizona: An Overview

Assault and battery is a serious criminal charge. The laws related to assault and battery vary by state. Some states combine the acts of threatening a person and causing physical harm to constitute assault and battery. Other states separate the acts into two different criminal offenses.

Under Arizona laws, there is not a separate offense for battery.

The assault laws in Arizona cover both the act of threatening a person or causing fear and the act of causing physical harm to another person. The assault statute lists three specific offenses that meet the definition of assault.  All three types of assault are classified as misdemeanors.

There is an aggravated assault statute that lists circumstances that increase the charge to a felony.

What are the Assault Laws in Arizona?

Under Arizona’s assault laws, the following acts constitute assault:

  • Recklessly, intentionally, or knowingly causing physical harm to someone (Class 1  or Class 2 Misdemeanor)
  • Intentionally causing another person to fear imminent physical injury (Class 2 Misdemeanor)
  • Knowingly touching another person with the intent to provoke, injure, or that person (Class 3 Misdemeanor)

The act of threatening physical harm can result in an assault charge. You do not need to cause physical harm or even touch a person to be charged with assault in Arizona.

What is Aggravated Assault?

Aggravated assault is considered battery in Arizona.

Aggravated assault requires that you commit assault under any of the following circumstances:

  • You cause serious physical harm to another person
  • You use a dangerous instrument or deadly weapon while committing assault
  • The assault results in a fracture, substantial impairment or loss of a body part or organ, or substantial disfigurement
  • Committing assault when the victim is physically restrained, bound, or the ability to resist is significantly impaired
  • Assault is committed after entering the victim’s home with the intent to commit assault
  • The victim is under 15 years of age, and the perpetrator is 18 years of age or older
  • You have an Order of Protection against you, and you touched another person to cause injury or provoke that person
  • You took control of or attempted to take a police officer’s firearm or other implement
  • You were in custody or imprisoned

You can also be charged with aggravated assault based on a victim’s job, such as a police officer, teacher, or healthcare practitioner. You could also be charged with aggravated assault based on your relationship with the victim. Domestic violence can sometimes rise to the level of aggravated assault.

What are the Penalties for Assault and Aggravated Assault?

The penalties for assault depend on the class of misdemeanor the charge carries. The most severe assault charge is a Class 1 misdemeanor.

The maximum jail sentence for a Class 1 misdemeanor is six months. The judge may also impose a fine of up to $2,500 and up to three years of probation.

Aggravated assault charges are all felonies. Depending on the circumstances involved in the crime, an aggravated assault charge may be a Class 2 felony through a Class 6 felony. The punishment depends on the class of felony.

If the assault charge is considered a dangerous offense, the penalties for a conviction are more severe. Dangerous offenses would include assault that resulted in serious injury or assault with a deadly weapon.

The potential prison time for aggravated assault could be decades. Aggravated assault involving a minor increases the severity of the sentence. Also, if you have a criminal record, the prison sentence could increase.

Are There Defenses to Assault and Battery?

The prosecution must prove each of the legal elements to obtain a conviction for assault or aggravated assault. The jury must believe beyond a reasonable doubt that you knowingly, recklessly, or intentionally threatened to harm someone or injured someone.

A criminal defense lawyer might argue that you lacked the intent to injure or threaten someone. By law, you must have acted with intent or acted recklessly to be guilty of assault and battery.

If the charges are based on the victim’s identity, you could argue that you did not know the person was working in a protected capacity. Your attorney might argue that the acts were in self-defense.  Depending on the facts in your case, there could be additional defenses to assault and battery charges.

What Should You Do if You are Arrested for Assault and Battery?

Arizona assault and battery laws are confusing. Many circumstances can lead to an aggravated assault charge. Unless you have a thorough understanding of the assault and battery laws, you cannot adequately defend yourself against these criminal charges.

If you are arrested, do not try to explain what happened to the police. The more you talk to the police, the more evidence you give the prosecution to use against you. It is best to remain quiet except for asking for a lawyer.