Assault related offenses vary greatly in their criminal classification. An assault can be as low as a class three misdemeanor or as high as a class two, dangerous felony. The class three misdemeanor is the lowest level of criminal conduct. Anything lower than a class three misdemeanor would be considered a civil offense or a local ordinance violation. The class two felony, on the other hand, is extremely serious. This type of criminal charge will require a term in the Arizona Department of Corrections if one was convicted at trial.
Before an individual has been charged by the city or state, it is very difficult to determine what the potential charges might be and what the associated consequences are. I can help. Having been a former prosecutor, I have the ability to review a fact pattern and predict how the city or state prosecutor is likely going to charge a case.
Assaults are unique in the sense that they often carry defenses that can be successfully applied in a trial setting. The most obvious defense to assault is self defense. Equally, a standard defense to an assault related charge is defense of a third party. Below is a list of typical defenses associated with assault related offenses.
While these defenses can be used successfully, there are limits to their success. First, any use of force or threat of force cannot be done in response to verbal provocation. Second, these defenses are based upon what a reasonable person would do in a similar situation. Third, an escalation of force will require a more stringent analysis making the justification more difficult to prove. Finally, defense must be in response to immediate use of force or threatened use of force.
Remember when your mother told you, “Sticks and stones may break your bones but words will never hurt you?” Well, your mother was giving you excellent legal advice. Justifying an assault related offense based upon verbal provocation will never work. It does not matter how insulting the language is. If you assault somebody based upon their vulgar language, you will get in trouble. With that said, sticks and stones can cause serious physical injury so a person is within his/her right to appropriately defense himself from an assault or the immediate threat of an assault.
This is the toughest question associated with any form of defense. The important thing to understand is that “you” are not the reasonable person. Your actions might have been reasonable, but the reasonable person is the subjective person that the jury creates.
Confused? You should be. Basically, a jury is supposed to take all of the facts surrounding the assault and determine what the reasonable response would be. The good thing is that the jury gets to based this off of everything that the accused was aware of. For example, if you were aware that the person chasing you was a gang member that has killed multiple people before, your aggressive response will likely be considered reasonable.
Usually, the saying goes, “Don’t bring a knife to a gun fight.” This is still good advice. However, the importance of this section is to understand that the escalation of force will look very unfavorable. If you are in a fist fight with an individual and you decide to end the fight by stabbing the opponent, your actions will likely be considered unreasonable in the given situation.
However, if you are being assaulted by multiple individuals to the point where your believe that they are going to fatally attack beat you up, the use of a knife or gun might be appropriate. No matter what, escalating the level of force with a weapon will always lead to problems.
People try to justify an assault by saying that they are preventing something that might happen in the future. For example, if a guy confronts me and tells me that he is going to find me and beat me up the next time he sees me, I am not allowed to beat him up first to prevent the promised beat down. This should make sense.
The only time you can use the defense justifications is when there is an immediate use of force against you or the threat of force against you.
If you are facing any type of assault charge, call our law office today for a free, confidential consultation at 602-540-7887.
The Feldman Law Firm is located in Phoenix, Arizona and provides criminal defense throughout the state of Arizona. This website is not intended to create a client attorney relationship, nor does communication though this website. This website is for marketing purposes only.The Feldman Law Firm, PLLC has merged with The Law Office of Bret A. Royle. Adam Feldman will still remain the sole attorney of record for all cases retained under The Feldman Law Firm, PLLC.