A.R.S. § 13-1203What is the Definition of Assault?
A person can commit an assault in Arizona by a) causing a physical injury to another person, b) placing another person in reasonable apprehension of a physical injury, or c) touching another person with the intent to injure, insult or provoke them. Unlike other States, Arizona’s assault statue includes conduct generally characterized as a battery because it goes beyond mere touching or apprehension of physical injury and includes actual physical injury. In fact, there are really four different types of assault, three misdemeanor assaults that are defined in ARS § 13-1203, as well as an aggravated or felony assault that is defined in ARS § 13-1204. Where the assault takes place between a couple or people who live together, it is considered an entirely different crime called “domestic violence.”What Elements of Assault Must Be Proven?
In order to find you guilty of Class 1 Misdemeanor Assault under ARS § 13-1203(a)(1), the prosecutor must prove each of the following two elements to the crime:
- You acted intentionally or knowingly, and
- Caused a physical injury to another person.
The first element is the mental state and the second is the conduct. Each of these three mental states are defined in the Arizona Revised Statutes. For example, “intentionally” under ARS 13-105(10)(a) means that “a person’s objective is to cause that result or to engage in that conduct.” An example of evidence that the prosecutor could bring to show such conduct was intentional is a statement made by you prior to doing the offense that was posted on social media.
In order to find you guilty of Class 2 Misdemeanor Assault under ARS § 13-1203(a)(1), the prosecutor must prove each of the following two elements to the crime:
- You acted recklessly, and
- Caused a physical injury to another person
Unlike the mental states of intentionally or knowingly, recklessly is charged as a less serious crime because it is defined in ARS 13-105(10)(c) to mean that a person “is aware of an consciously disregards a substantial and unjustifiable risk.” Recklessness includes a person who is voluntarily intoxicated, even though they may not be aware of the risk.
Another Class 2 Misdemeanor Assault exists under ARS § 13-1203(a)(2). In this case, the prosecutor must prove each of the following two elements to the crime:
- You acted intentionally, and
- Placed another person in reasonable apprehension of physical injury
Finally, in order to find you guilty of Class 3 Misdemeanor Assault under ARS § 13-1203(a)(3), the prosecutor must prove each of the following three elements to the crime:
- You acted knowingly,
- Touched another person,
- With the intent to injure, insult or provoke them.
- Aggravated Assault under ARS. § 13-1204: An aggravated assault is where a person commits a misdemeanor assault as defined above with an aggravated circumstance such as serious physical injury, a deadly weapon, or the victim was a police officer.
- Domestic Violence under ARS § 13-1204: Domestic violence is where a person commits a misdemeanor assault AND tries to choke or impede the victim’s breathing AND the victim and defendant have a domestic relationship. A domestic relationship includes, among other things, a married couple, previously married couple, a couple who lives together, a couple with a child together, and a parent-child relationship.
Alejandra was getting ready for work when she could overhear her roommate, Jeanae, talking on the phone and very upset. Jeanae was just fired from work. As Alejandra tries to leave, they cross pathways on the stairs and get into a verbal argument. Jeanae pushes Alejandra and causes her to stumble down part of the staircase. Then, she gets on top of Alejandra and straddles her legs around her waist and swings punches at her face. Alejandra does everything that she can to defend herself. When she arrives at work for her mother, Alejandra looks so disheveled that her mother encourages her to contact the police. Once the police arrive, they decide to file a complaint against Jeanae for Class 1 Misdemeanor Assault under ARS § 13-1203(a)(1).What Are the Defenses?
- Lack of Criminal Intent/Knowledge/Recklessness: one of elements to the crime of assault is the mental state. There are three different mental states as described above- intentionally, knowingly, and recklessly. Therefore, to defend against the crime of assault, your Lavy Lawyer can claim that the prosecutor has no evidence of the requisite mental state.
- Lack of Causation: another one of elements to the crime of assault is that the defendant caused physical injury or fear of physical injury. The concept of causation is critical under Arizona law as the Therefore, to defend against the crime of assault, your Lavy Lawyer can claim that the jury must find that the victim’s injury was proximately caused by the defendant’s acts. Lavy Law may want to argue that a superseding intervening event caused the victim’s injury and not the defendant’s actions. It is the prosecutor’s burden to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a superseding intervening even did not cause such injury.
- Self-Defense or Justification: Self-defense is not used as often as the other defenses because the defendant is admitting that he did in fact cause injury to the victim. It is an affirmative defense in which the defendant must prove certain elements. Under ARS 13-404, a defendant is justified in using physical force against another when a reasonable person would believe that physical force is immediately necessary to protect himself against the other’s use or attempted use of unlawful physical force. A defendant cannot claim self-defense where: (1) the other party provoked them verbally, not physically, (2) they were being arrested (unless force by peace officer was excessive), and (3) they provoked the other party first (unless they withdrew from encounter). In the example above, Jeanae, the defendant, could use self-defense as she also suffered injuries from Alejandra. She will claim, for example, that it was Alejandra who started the fight and was the aggressor.
The penalties for assault depend on the class of assault that is being charged.
Class 1 Assault- ARS 13-1203(a)(1): Where there is actual physical injury and not mere touching or apprehension, the Maricopa County District Attorney will charge the crime of assault as a Class 1 Misdemeanor, the most severe type of misdemeanor. The maximum penalties for a Class 1 Misdemeanor are six (6) months in jail, $2,500 in fines, and 3 years of probation. If the offense is charged as a domestic violence (DV) offense under ARS § 13-3601, then you will be required to also complete domestic violence counseling.
Class 2 Assault- ARS §13-1203(a)(1); ARS §13-1203 (a)(2): Where there is physical injury caused by recklessness, or fear of physical injury, the Maricopa County District Attorney will charge the crime of assault as a Class 2 Misdemeanor. The maximum penalties for a Class 2 Misdemeanor are four (4) months in jail, $750 in fines, and 2 years of probation. If the offense is charged as a domestic violence (DV) offense under ARS § 13-3601, then you will be required to also complete domestic violence counseling.
Class 3 Assault- ARS § 13-1203(a)(3): Where there is a touching with the intent to injure/insult/provoke, the Maricopa County District Attorney will charge the crime of assault as a Class 3 Misdemeanor, the least severe type of misdemeanor. The only crimes that are less serious than a Class 3 Misdemeanor in Arizona are petty offenses. The maximum penalties for a Class 3 Misdemeanor are thirty (30) days in jail, $500 in fines, and 1 year of probation. If the offense is charged as a domestic violence (DV) offense under ARS § 13-3601, then you will be required to also complete domestic violence counseling.
Another option for Class 1, 2, and 3 Misdemeanor Assault charges is called pretrial diversion. This program is offered in certain misdemeanor courts where the judge will allow you to complete a program such as an anger management course or a substance abuse class to get your charge completely dismissed. However, you will still have to enter a plea of guilty and be subject to the penalties until you successfully complete your program. Our firm will always advocate for diversion by highlighting your unique personal circumstances in the case that warrant leniency.What are the Immigration Consequences?
Although a misdemeanor assault charge sounds insignificant in criminal court, for immigration purposes it can have devastating consequences because if it is considered to be a crime involving moral turpitude, also known as a CIMT. This would likely occur in the case that you are charged with a Class 1 Misdemeanor Assault and it is categorized as a domestic violence (DV) offense under ARS § 13-3601. A CIMT can cost you your green card, for example, if you already have a misdemeanor on your record.
Additionally, a Class 1 or Class 2 Misdemeanor Assault may affect your immigration status even if you are already admitted to the U.S. as a green card holder. The ICE Attorney’s Office can remove you from the country for an Aggravated Felony which is defined under Immigration law to include a “Crime of Violence” such as assault under Arizona law if a sentence of one (1) year or more is imposed. Additionally, when you leave the country to travel, you will likely have a difficult time re-entering because Customs and Border Patrol will see the conviction on your record and treat you as an arriving alien. This could mean being paroled in to the country and asked to appear for an interview to prove you are still admissible.