Assault with a Deadly Weapon in Arizona

Assault with a deadly weapon occurs when a person commits assault with a deadly or dangerous weapon. In Arizona, assault with a deadly weapon is considered aggravated assault.

This article specifically addresses assault with a deadly weapon. For more information on aggravated assault, see Arizona Aggravated Assault Laws. For more information misdemeanor assault, see Arizona Assault and Battery Laws.

(Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 13-1204.)

Assault with a Deadly Weapon

Assault by itself is a misdemeanor in Arizona. For an assault to be assault with a deadly weapon, the perpetrator must use a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument to:

  • intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly cause a physical injury to another person
  • intentionally place another person in reasonable apprehension of imminent physical injury, or
  • knowingly touch another person with the intent to injure, insult, or provoke the person.

(Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. § § 13-1203, 13-1204.)

State of Mind

The three mental states required for assault are defined below.

  • Intentionally: someone acts intentionally when his or her objective is to cause that result or to engage in that conduct.
  • Knowingly: a person acts knowingly when that person is aware or believes that the conduct is what it is. It does not require any knowledge of the unlawfulness of the act or omission.
  • Recklessly: someone acts recklessly when that person is aware of and consciously disregards a substantial and unjustifiable risk that the result will occur or that the circumstance exists. The risk must be of such nature and degree that disregard of such risk constitutes a gross deviation from the standard of conduct that a reasonable person would observe in the situation. A person who creates such a risk but who is unaware of such risk solely by reason of voluntary intoxication also acts recklessly with respect to such risk.

(Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 13-105.)

What Constitutes a “Deadly Weapon?”

A deadly weapon is anything designed for lethal use, including a firearm, even if it’s unloaded. The definition does not include a firearm that is permanently inoperable. Common examples of deadly weapons include brass knuckles, handguns, and swords.

(Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 13-105.)

What Constitutes a “Dangerous Instrument?”

A dangerous instrument is anything that, under the circumstances in which it is used, attempted to be used or threatened to be used, is readily capable of causing death or serious physical injury. Often times, if an object is not inherently dangerous (unlike a gun or knife), a judge or jury must decide if the defendant used the object in a way that made it a dangerous instrument. For example, in one case the court determined that a defendant’s tennis shoe could be considered a dangerous instrument only if the prosecutor proved that the shoe caused greater or different injuries than would have been caused by a bare foot, or that the shoe had been wielded as a weapon.

(Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 13-105.)

What Constitutes “Serious Physical Injury?”

Serious physical injury includes physical injury that creates a reasonable risk of death, or that causes serious and permanent disfigurement, serious impairment of health, or loss or protracted impairment of the function of any bodily organ or limb.

Serious physical injury requires more than a temporary impairment, even if it is substantial. For example, the fracture of a body part that heals normally may not constitute serious physical injury.

(Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 13-105.)

Penalties for Assault with a Deadly Weapon

Arizona classifies assault with a deadly weapon as a Class 3 felony. Because the crime is a dangerous offense, penalties include five (and up to 15 years) in prison, a fine up to $150,000, or both.

(Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. § § 13-1204, 13-701, 13-704, 13-801.)

If the victim is a peace officer, prosecutor, or under 15 years of age, assault with a deadly weapon is a Class 2 felony. Penalties include seven (and up to 21 years) in prison, a fine up to $150,000, or both.

(Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. § § 13-1204, 13-701, 13-801.)

Penalties for Class 2 and Class 3 felonies can increase based on aggravating factors, such as harm to the victim’s family, the manner in which the assault was committed, and if the victim was elderly or disabled. Penalties can also increase if the defendant has a prior criminal history involving dangerous felony offenses. Penalties for Class 2 and Class 3 felonies can decrease based on mitigating factors, such as the defendant’s age, mental capacity, and level of participation in the crime.

(Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. § § 13-701, 13-704.)

Get Legal Advice

If you find yourself charged with assault with a deadly weapon or aggravated assault in Arizona, you should immediately seek the assistance of a qualified attorney. There are many potential defenses against a charge of this magnitude, and, it is in your best interest to protect your rights and employ someone who knows the proper defense tactics.

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