Arizona Assault and Battery Laws

Arizona differentiates between misdemeanor assaults and aggravated assaults—the latter are more serious. Arizona classifies misdemeanor assault as either a class 1 misdemeanor assault (the most serious), a class 2 misdemeanor assault, or a class 3 misdemeanor assault.

To learn about aggravated assaults, see Aggravated Assault in Arizona. For more information on deadly weapons and assault, see Assault with a Deadly Weapon in Arizona.

Class 1 Misdemeanor Assault

A person commits a class 1 misdemeanor assault in either of the following two ways:

  • by intentionally causing physical injury to another person, or
  • by knowingly causing physical injury to another person.

(Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 13-1203.)

What Constitutes "Physical Injury?"

Physical injury is an impairment of someone's physical condition. A judge or jury must often determine whether an alleged victim has suffered a physical injury based on the facts of a case. Sometimes, the answer is not clear, as when one person pushes another person. In one instance, the push may cause bruising and thus result in physical injury. In another instance, a minor shove might cause no real harm.

(Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 13-105.)

"Intentionally" and "Knowingly" Causing Injury

Intentionally causing a physical injury is a fairly easy concept to understand--basically, the defendant intends that his act will physically injure someone. But "knowingly" causing injury is a bit different, and does not require an intent that the victim be hurt.

When people do something "knowingly," they are deliberately acting in a way that's described as criminal by the assault statute. For example, striking a person and causing physical harm constitutes knowing behavior of the type specifically prohibited by the class 1 misdemeanor assault statute, because the defendant has acted deliberately, even if the defendant claims not to intend a resulting injury.

Importantly, a person can act knowingly without knowing the act or omission is unlawful. This means that ignorance of the law is not a defense.

(Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 13-105.)

Class 2 Misdemeanor Assault

A person commits a class 2 misdemeanor assault in either of two ways:

  • by recklessly causing physical injury to another person, or
  • by intentionally placing another person in reasonable apprehension of imminent physical injury.

(Az. St. Ann. § 13-1203.)

Acting "Recklessly"

People who act recklessly are aware of and consciously disregard a substantial and unjustifiable risk created by their act. The behavior must constitute a gross (extreme) deviation from the standard of conduct that a reasonable person would observe in the situation. For example, throwing a heavy object into a crowd of people in a stadium might constitute reckless behavior. Someone who creates a substantial and unjustifiable risk has acted recklessly, even if the person is unaware of the risk due solely to voluntary intoxication.

(Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 13-105.)

Acting "Intentionally"

As explained just above, a person behaves intentionally when a person's objective is to cause a result or to engage in conduct. For example, purposefully pushing a person meets the definition of intentional behavior.

(Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 13-105.)

Placing Another in Fear

It's possible to commit an assault without actually touching the victim. For example, drawing one's fist back and threatening to punch a person might place another person in fear. Importantly, the prosecution must prove that the defendant's actions would create fear in a reasonable person in the victim's position.

Class 3 Misdemeanor Assault

A person commits a class 3 misdemeanor assault by knowingly touching another person with the intent to injure, insult, or provoke the person. For example, shoving a person in an effort to start a fight would constitute a touching intended to provoke the other person.

While touching certainly includes direct physical contact, touching also occurs when one person strikes another person with an object, or puts an object into motion and the object then contacts another person. For example, in one case a court determined that pouring urine on another person constituted touching. In another case, pouring a substance into another person's drink, which the other person then consumed, also constituted touching.

(Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 13-1203.)

Penalties for Misdemeanor Assault

Someone convicted of misdemeanor assault can be subjected to any or all of the following penalties:

  • Incarceration. Penalties include six months, four months, or 30 days of imprisonment for class 1 misdemeanors, class 2 misdemeanors, and class 3 misdemeanors, respectively. Incarceration occurs in a place other than the state department of corrections.
  • Fines. The Court can impose a fine up to $2,500, $750, or $500 for class 1 misdemeanors, class 2 misdemeanors, and class 3 misdemeanors, respectively.
  • Reimbursement of incarceration costs. The Court will order any person sentenced to a term of incarceration to reimburse the incarceration costs to the political subdivision that is responsible for the costs of the person's stay.
  • Probation. A person on probation regularly meets with a probation officer and fulfills other terms and conditions, such as maintaining employment and attending counseling.
  • Community service. Courts often include as a part of probation the requirement that the defendant work for a specified number of hours with court-approved organizations, such as charities.

(Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. § § 13-707, 13-802, 13-804.01.)

See a Lawyer

If you are facing a charge of misdemeanor assault, consider consulting with an experienced criminal defense attorney who regularly practices in your area. A lawyer can evaluate the strength of the prosecution's case against you and help develop any defenses that might apply to your case.

A lawyer's skillful negotiation with the prosecutor can sometimes result in a reduction of charges or a reduction in penalties, such as less jail time, no jail time, probation, and lower fines. A local criminal defense attorney, who knows how the prosecutors and judges involved in your case typically handle such cases, can assist with these negotiations. And if you decide to go to trial, having a good lawyer on your side will be essential.

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