Though people often associate “assault” with bodily injury or violent contact, “assault” refers to a broad range of offenses that do not necessarily involve physical injuries.
Arizona’s law on misdemeanor assault covers injurious behavior and also touching or threatening to inflict harm.
What is Misdemeanor Assault?
“Misdemeanor assault” is threatening or inflicting violence on a person, without aggravating factors such as weapons.
It can be any act enumerated under Arizona Revised Statute § 13-1203:
- Intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causing any physical injury to another person
- Intentionally placing another person in reasonable apprehension of imminent physical injury
- Knowingly touching another person with the intent to injure, insult, or provoke such person.
Misdemeanor forms of touching, such as shoving or pushing, may also constitute misdemeanor assault. However, Misdemeanor Assault does not require physical contact. Lifting a hand or a fist may be enough to “place another person in reasonable apprehension.”
Misdemeanor assault is a misdemeanor in Arizona, ranging in severity from Class 1 to Class 3. The potential consequences are:
- Class 1 Misdemeanor — Punishable by up to six months in jail, $2,500 in fines, and 36 months of probation.
- Class 2 Misdemeanor — Punishable by up to four months in jail, $750 in fines, and/or 24 months of probation.
- Class 3 Misdemeanor — Punishable by up to 30 days in jail, $500 in fines, and/or 12 months of probation.
What Evidence is Needed for a Misdemeanor Assault Charge in Arizona?
The prosecution has the burden, to prove beyond reasonable doubt, the Defendant committed the alleged assault (or for that matter, any alleged crime). Often, the prosecutor relies on witness testimony, most significantly the victim’s, to prove their case. Other persons who were present during the alleged incident may serve as eyewitnesses. For example, parents; children; siblings; roommates; co-workers; unknown bystanders. Responding officers, security personnel, and sometimes medical experts, may also be called to testify.
What Evidence is Needed if the Eyewitness is a Child?
This is a common question, especially with alleged assaults related to domestic violence cases. Police officers may question, or “interview,” children (parents have the right to stop such interviews so long as the parent is not the accused). In some cases, a court order or warrant may be needed before officers can interview a minor. It may be possible for a defense lawyer to challenge a child’s witness statement for many reasons. For example, reliability; credibility; and admissibility.
What if the Victim Declines to Testify?
More often than not, many people believe this automatically dismisses the case. This is a detrimental misconception. You must understand, the “State” becomes the “victim.” Said another way, the prosecutor stands in the victim’s shoes. Thus, the prosecutor may decide to pursue the case based on other evidence, such as a public audio or video evidence.
Are 911 Calls Admissible in Court?
If a 911 call was made and recorded regarding the alleged assault, its validity as evidence may be challenged. These recordings are “hearsay.” Hearsay is “an out of court statement offered for the truth of the matter asserted,” and is generally inadmissible. However, as with nearly all generalized rules, there are exceptions that could allow a 911 call to be admitted as evidence.
What Defenses are Available to Misdemeanor Assault?
Many defenses are available to an accused person. These are called “Justifications” because, assuming evidence exists to show an accused person did in fact “assault” another, the act(s) may very well be justified. The most common example is Self-Defense. You can find the full statute here. In sum, if at the time of the offense, the accused reasonably believed they needed to protect themselves from another’s imminent threat; AND a reasonable person believes the accused’s act(s) were reasonable to protect themselves from another’s imminent threat, the accused may very successfully assert they were justified in “assaulting” another.
Call a Defense Lawyer to Protect Yourself Against an Assault Charge.
Though misdemeanor assault is not as harshly penalized as aggravated assault, it can still lead to a criminal conviction that has a wide-reaching impact on your life. We’ve seen numerous individuals who had to suffer criminal consequences after being involved in a minor altercation or misunderstanding.
If you are accused of or charged with assault, protect yourself by contacting an attorney as soon as you can. Arizona criminal defense attorney Howard Dworman has successfully obtained dismissals, lowered charges, and won not guilty verdicts for his clients.
Call (602) 698-5520 or contact us via email to get started.