ARS 13-1203 is the Arizona statute that defines the crime of assault. People commit this offense when they intentionally or recklessly cause physical injury to someone, intentionally place another person in fear of physical injury, or knowingly touch someone with the intent to injure or provoke them. An assault conviction is a misdemeanor that is punishable by up to six months in jail.
The language of ARS 13-1203 states that: “A person commits assault by:
- Intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causing any physical injury to another person; or
- Intentionally placing another person in reasonable apprehension of imminent physical injury; or
- Knowingly touching another person with the intent to injure, insult or provoke such person.”
- angrily throwing a beer bottle at another person at a bar.
- throwing rocks at a neighbor while she is gardening.
- poking someone on the chest while threatening to punch him.
Criminal defense lawyers draw upon several legal strategies to contest assault charges. Some of these include showing that the defendant:
- did not act with criminal intent,
- did not cause physical injury or fear of injury, and/or
- acted in self-defense.
A violation of ARS 13-1203 is a misdemeanor offense (as opposed to a felony) punishable by up to six months in jail time.
Depending on the facts of the case, this misdemeanor can be a:
In this article, our Phoenix Arizona criminal defense attorneys will discuss what the law is under this statute, defenses available if charged, the penalties for a conviction, and related crimes.
1. How does Arizona law define “assault”?
People in Arizona are guilty of assault if they:
- intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly cause a physical injury or physical condition to someone else,
- intentionally put someone else in reasonable apprehension of physical injury, or
- knowingly touch someone with the intent to injure, insult, or provoke them.[i]
Assault is sometimes referred to as “simple assault,” or “misdemeanor assault.”
Under this statute, defendants act “recklessly” when they are aware of, but consciously disregard, a substantial risk that an act will cause some harm. The risk must be of such a nature that the disregard of it constitutes a gross deviation from the conduct of a reasonable person.[ii]
“Intentionally” means that a defendant intended the act which he/she performed.[iii]
Further, the determination of whether or not an accused puts another person in “reasonable apprehension of physical injury” is based upon all the facts of a case.[iv]
2. What are the best defenses to ARS 13-1203?
Defendants have the right to challenge assault charges with a legal defense. A successful defense will cast reasonable doubt on any charges filed.
Some common defenses to ARS 13-1203 allegations are that the accused:
- did not act with a criminal intent.
- did not cause an injury or fear of an injury.
- acted in self-defense.
2.1 No criminal intent
People are only guilty under this statute if they act with some type of specified intent, like “intentionally,” “knowingly,” or “recklessly.” An accused, then, can contest a charge by showing that he/she did not act with any of these purposes.
2.2 No injury/fear of injury
Most assault cases result in injury or a fear of injury to the alleged victim. This means that it is always a defense for a defendant to show that he/she did not cause these results.
Defendants can assert that they assaulted a person because they were acting in self-defense. The defense is appropriate so long as:
- the accused reasonably believed that he/she was in imminent danger of physical harm, and
- force was necessary to stop the danger.
3. What are the penalties for assault?
Assault committed intentionally or knowingly, and with physical injury to another, is a Class 1 misdemeanor, punishable by up to six months in jail.[v]
Assault committed recklessly with an injury to someone or assault that puts another person in fear is a Class 2 misdemeanor, punishable by up to four months in jail.[vi]
Assault committed by touching another person is a Class 3 misdemeanor, punishable by up to one month in jail.[vii]
Note that a judge can suspend a jail sentence and impose probation instead. A few common probation conditions include:
- community service, and
- anger management courses.
4. Are there related offenses?
There are three crimes related to assault. These are:
- aggravated assault – ARS 13-1204,
- domestic violence – ARS 13-3601, and
- threatening or intimidating – ARS 13-1202.
4.1 Aggravated assault – ARS 13-1204
ARS 13-1204 is the Arizona statute that says a person commits the crime of aggravated assault if he/she assaults another and does so by means of certain aggravating factors.
Some of these factors include:
- the accused used a deadly weapon,
- the assault resulted in the “victim” suffering some type of disfigurement,
- the assault occurred in the “victim’s” private home, and
- the assault was committed against a firefighter or a police officer.[viii]
Unlike charges under ARS 13-1203, aggravated assault charges must include one of these aggravating factors in order to hold a defendant guilty of the crime.
4.2 Domestic violence – ARS 13-3601
ARS 13-3601 is the Arizona statute on the crime of domestic violence. According to this statute, a person commits domestic violence if:
- he/she commits one of the crimes specifically mentioned in the statute, and
- the defendant is in a certain relationship with the “victim” (for example, married to the victim or in a romantic or sexual relationship with the victim).
Assault is one of the crimes specifically mentioned in this statute. If a defendant commits it against someone that he is in a certain relationship with, such person can be charged with both:
- assault, and
- domestic violence.
4.3 Threatening or intimidating – ARS 13-1202
Per ARS 13-1202, someone commits this crime if he threatens someone (with words or conduct) and either:
- physically injures that person,
- causes a public inconvenience, or
- causes another person to participate in a criminal street gang, a criminal syndicate, or a racketeering enterprise.[ix]
Unlike assault, threatening and intimidating could lead to a felony charge.
For additional help…
For additional guidance or to discuss your case with a criminal defense lawyer, we invite you to contact our law office/law firm at the Shouse Law Group. Our attorneys provide both free consultations and legal advice you can trust.
[i] Arizona Revised Statutes 13-1203 Subsection A. See also State v. McLemore, 230 Ariz. 571 (2012).
[ii] State v. Miles, 211 Ariz. 475 (2005).
[iii] State v. Barnett, 142 Ariz. 592 (1984). See also State v. Johnson, 205 Ariz. 413 (2003).
[iv] State v. James, 231 Ariz. 490 (2013).
[v] A.R.S. 13-1203B.
[vi] See same.
[vii] See same.
[viii] ARS 13-1204.
[ix] ARS 13-1202.