Questions to Ask Your Lawyer About Assault
Arguments can usually be resolved with words, but oftentimes miscommunications, misunderstandings, and maybe even insults happen, and it leads to a physical altercation, resulting in an assault charge.
When you have been charged with assault, it could be classified as a misdemeanor under A.R.S. 13-1203:
Class 1 misdemeanor: If you intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly caused physical injury to another person.
Class 2 misdemeanor: If you placed another person in reasonable apprehension of imminent personal injury.
Class 3 misdemeanor: If you knowingly touched another person with the intent to injure, insult, or provoke such person.
On the other hand, aggravated assault is a little different. It’s not a misdemeanor, but it is considered a felony, a serious crime, and it may result in mandatory prison sentences. You must have been charged with aggravated assault if:
- You caused serious personal injury to another person.
- You used a weapon.
- Your physical assault caused temporary but substantial disfigurement, loss, fracture, or impairment of any body organ or body part.
- You physically assaulted a person who was bound, physically restrained, or could not defend themselves because of temporary impairment.
- You are 18 years or older and the person you assaulted was under 15 years of age.
- You knowingly assaulted a peace officer or someone working for the officer.
There are additional ways to be charged with aggravated assault. Learn more about the elements of aggravated assault here.
If you have any questions regarding your assault charges, you might want to ask a criminal defense lawyer questions about your case, and hire an experienced criminal defense lawyer to fight the charges. Do not speak to police about what occurred.
What Type of Defense Apply?
Some types of defenses that apply would be self-defense, defense of another person, used force to prevent crime, and if there was lack of sufficient evidence to prove the underlying assault.
Self-defense is as the name implies, the defense of yourself. You may only use or threaten to use physical force to defend yourself only if it is immediately necessary to do so against an immanent attack.
The defense of others has the same elements of self-defense, but your physical force is used to defend another person. Learn more about the elements of self-defense here.
Using force to prevent crimes is a defense to an assault charge, but it needs to be proved that you are using physical force to prevent these crimes otherwise you will be charged with assault or aggravated assault:
- Aggravated assault ARS §13-1204
- Armed robbery ARS §13-1904
- Arson of occupied structure ARS §13-1704
- Child molestation ARS §13-1410
- First degree burglary ARS §13-1508 or second degree burglary ARS §13-1507
- First degree murder ARS §13-1105 or second degree murder ARS §13-1104
- Kidnapping ARS §13-1304
- Manslaughter ARS §13-1103
- Sexual assault ARS §13-1406
- Sexual misconduct with a minor ARS §13-1405
If you have a history of assault charges or violent crimes, you should let your defense attorney know. They are fighting for you so it wouldn’t be a good idea to blindside them by hiding information that might jeopardize their strategic plans of winning your case.
Lack of Sufficient Evidence
To be convicted of your charges, the State must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the evidence and arguments they presented would establish your act of crime and the jury would be convinced beyond a reasonable doubt of your guilt.
Usually witnesses are used to testify to support the findings on the evidence only if they have personal knowledge on the matter.
The State has 1 year to file misdemeanor charges and 7 years to file felony charges against you, generally. Charges filed outside of the timeframe will enable your criminal defense attorney to file a motion to dismiss the charges under the statute of limitations depending on the facts that may have brought about the delay.
How Much Time Will I Face in Jail If I Lose My Trial?
The time you face in jail depends on the severity of your charges and if you are a first time or repeat offender. Additional fines of up to $150,000 may be included as well.
The sentencing for misdemeanors are:
Class 1 misdemeanors: 6 months.
Class 2 misdemeanors: 4 months.
Class 3 misdemeanors: 30 days.
Felony sentencings are classified into 6 categories:
Class 2 Felony: The second most serious crimes classified into non-dangerous offenses like theft and first degree money laundering, and dangerous offenses like manslaughter and aggravated assault, and dangerous crimes against children when the victim is under 15. It has a presumptive sentence of 5 years and an aggravated sentencing of 12.5 years. This range changes if you have prior felony convictions or based on the nature of the charges. If you have two historical prior felony convictions you could fae up to 35 years in prison for this level of felony.
Class 3 Felony: The third most severe crimes for dangerous crimes like aggravated assault and non-dangerous crimes like second degree burglary. The sentencing has a presumptive term of 3.5 and an aggravated term of 8 years 9 months. If the offense is a “dangerous offense” the prison sentence is mandatory from 5-7.5-15 years.
Class 4 Felony: The fourth most severe crimes for non-dangerous crimes such as criminal damage and forgery and dangerous crimes such as robbery and misconduct involving weapons. It has a presumptive sentencing term of 2.5 years and an aggravated term of 3 years and 9 months.
Class 5 Felony: The fifth most severe crimes for dangerous crimes such as aggravated assault on a police officer and criminal damage. The sentencing has a presumptive term of 1.5 years and an aggravated term of 2.5 years.
Class 6 Felony: The least serious type of felony that might be treated as a misdemeanor for dangerous crimes like endangerment and sexual conduct with a minor over 15. The sentencing has a presumptive term of 1 year and an aggravated term of 2 years.
As mentioned above, all sentencings can be increased depending on the severity of your crime and if it was your first time committing that act or if it is a repeat offense. The state has to allege things properly, prior to trial, in order of the court to sentence you within one of the sentencing categories. You need to discuss your case with an experienced criminal defense attorney.
For example, even if you are a first time offender, the severity of your assault can sentence you to 5 – 7.5 – 15 years of mandatory prison time, sometimes even up to 21 years.
What Are the Strengths & Weaknesses of My Case?
Your defense attorney should never guarantee specific results or outcomes from your case. There are many paths your case can go, it can be an entire roller coaster of stress and emotions before you know the general direction your case is going.
Your case may have as many weaknesses as it has strengths. After you have told your defense attorney the details about your case, and your attorney has reviewed the actual discovery in the case that the state intends on using to prove its case, your attorney should be able to tell you if you have a strong case and their strategic plans for fighting it. An experienced criminal defense attorney who has handled countless cases in court would be able to examine your preliminary information, make an assessment of how it will likely play out, and give suggestions on how you should proceed.
You may have the option of taking a plea bargain offered by the State to resolve the case in some fashion rather than proceed to trial. There is no constitutional right to a plea agreement. Your attorney will talk to you about the strengths and the weaknesses of your case, the likelihood of success at trial or how the state would attempt to prove their case, whether there are any constitutional issues, and whether it could be in your interest to accept an offer. The decision to take a plea offer is entirely your own. But it is important to find a criminal defense attorney who will review everything with you, discuss it with you in detail, and even include your family in the analysis and discussions so that they can help you make an informed decision about your future.