What is Second Degree Assault in Arizona?

Assault occurs any time one person acts in a way that causes another person to fear bodily harm. In most states, assault becomes second degree assault when one person causes serious bodily injury with a deadly weapon. Second degree assault can also occur if one person recklessly causes bodily injury to another person. 

Most states divide assault into first, second, and third-degree assault. In states that divide assault into degrees, second degree assault is often the lowest level of felony available.

In Arizona, the three categories of assault do not necessarily exist. Instead, assault is divided into simple assault and aggravated assault. Simple assault is a misdemeanor, while aggravated assault is a felony. 

Arizona courts levy harsh penalties for second degree assault. The definition of assault is also highly flexible. When you are facing an assault charge, you need an experienced attorney like Belen Olmedo Guerra.

What is the Difference Between Felony and Misdemeanor Assault in Arizona?

Arizona law divides assault into two categories rather than three. So rather than first, third, and second-degree assault, you have simple assault and aggravated assault, also known as battery.

Simple assault is a misdemeanor, while aggravated assault and battery in Arizona is a felony. 

Whether an Arizona court charges you with a felony or misdemeanor assault, the potential penalties are steep.

What is Simple Assault in Arizona?

The spectrum of simple assault in Arizona is broad. A court may charge you with a Class 1, Class 2, or Class 3 Misdemeanor for simple assault. Class 3 misdemeanors are the least serious, while Class 1 misdemeanors are just a step below a felony. 

Let’s break it down:

  • Class 3 misdemeanor assault includes touching with intent to injure or provoke. 
  • Class 2 misdemeanor assault occurs when one person causes another person to fear serious bodily harm. It does not require that the alleged aggressor touch the other person.
  • Class 1 misdemeanor assault is the most serious misdemeanor assault charge in Arizona. This is the charge a court will levy when there is actual physical injury. 

What this means is that a court can charge you with assault whether you actually hurt someone or not. 

If a prosecutor can prove that you intended to make another person fear bodily harm, they can charge you with simple assault. If you shove someone, a court can charge you with simple assault. 

In addition, if you have a recent assault charge, the state can elevate your simple assault charge. For instance, say the court convicts you of Class 2 misdemeanor assault. If you have another assault charge in the past 2 years, the courts will sentence you for Class 1 misdemeanor assault.

In many cases, the penalties do not match the offenses.

What are the Penalties for Simple Assault in Arizona?

Arizona penalties for simple assault range as broadly as the charges themselves. 

For a Class 3 misdemeanor, the sentence could possibly be 30 days in jail, with a $500 fine and up to a year of probation.

From there, the penalties only become more severe. A Class 2 misdemeanor carries a maximum jail sentence of four months, as well as a $750 fine, and up to 2 years’ probation. For Class 1 misdemeanor, you could be facing 6 months in jail, a $2500 fine, and up to 3 years’ probation. 

Misdemeanor Assault: Domestic Violence 

There is no individual category for domestic violence in Arizona law. Instead, it is an enhancement to other charges. 

If Arizona charges you with assault in the context of a domestic relationship, you will face additional penalties. This could include a restraining order. A restraining order may result in the loss of your right to own a gun. 

If you are not a citizen of the United States, the court may move to deport you. The court can do this even if you have proper documentation. 

What is Aggravated Assault in Arizona?

We mentioned above that second-degree assault was not a legal category in Arizona. In other states, second-degree assault is the lowest level of felony assault. In Arizona, this falls under the umbrella of aggravated assault

Aggravated assault is usually a Class 3 or a Class 4 felony in Arizona. A court will elevate assault to the “aggravated” level under a number of circumstances:

  • Causing serious physical injury or substantial disfigurement to another person. This might apply if the weapon in question is an automobile; that’s the level of injury or disfigurement necessary. 
  • Using a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument to make someone fear bodily harm. This falls under the category of a dangerous offense, which we’ll talk more about below.
  • Committing misdemeanor assault on a police officer, firefighter, teacher, prosecutor, health care provider, or prison guard 
  • Committing assault against someone under the age of 15 when you are older than 18
  • Restraining the other person at the time of the assault 
  • Entering someone’s private home in order to commit an assault 

Second Degree Assault Jail Time in Arizona

In Arizona, second-degree assault is considered a violent crime and comes with mandatory consequences. If convicted of second-degree assault in Arizona, without a qualified AZ criminal defense attorney, you’re looking at a mandatory 5 to 16 year prison sentence.

What is a Dangerous Offense in Arizona?

A dangerous offense, according to A.R.S. § 13-105, is an offense involving a dangerous instrument or deadly weapon. This includes actually using or discharging the weapon, as well as using it to threaten the other person. 

But what qualifies as a deadly instrument or dangerous weapon? 

The short answer is nearly everything. 

A deadly weapon is anything designed for lethal use. It mostly applies to firearms and similar weapons. But a dangerous instrument can be anything that is capable of causing death or serious injury under the circumstances you use it. 

Thus, if you use a broom handle in the middle of an assault, a court may consider that broom handle a dangerous instrument.   

What are the Penalties for Aggravated Assault?

Unfortunately, if a court charges you with a dangerous offense, you are facing prison time no matter your history. 

For other types of aggravated assault, jail sentences range anywhere from 5 to 15 years for a first offense. For a second offense, those numbers go up to 15 and 25. This is very similar to sentences for second-degree assault in other states. 

Contact the Belen Law Firm if You’ve Been Charged with Second Degree Assault in Phoenix

If you or someone you love is facing assault charges in Phoenix, they need an attorney immediately. For more information on the equivalent of second-degree assault in Arizona, call the Belen Law Firm at 602.715.0908. You can also leave us a message to schedule a free initial consultation.