Common Defenses in Assault and Aggravated Assault Cases
Assault and aggravated assault charges may be quite serious and may result in harsh consequences. Potential sentences may range from fines to a long prison term. However, a conviction is not inevitable, and defendants should fight the charges when possible. Assaults may happen under a wide range of circumstances, and there are many different potential defenses. James Novak is an experienced Phoenix assault lawyer and former prosecutor who understands common defenses in assault and aggravated assault cases. He can negotiate with the prosecution to reduce the charges or seek a dismissal, or he can take your case to trial if appropriate.Common Defenses in Assault and Aggravated Assault Cases
Assault and aggravated assault may involve a simple threat of violence or physical injury to another person. To obtain a conviction for misdemeanor assault, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you intentionally, recklessly, or knowingly physically injured another person, that you intentionally put someone else in a reasonable apprehension of an imminent physical injury, or that you knowingly touched someone else with the intent to injure, insult, or provoke them.
The burden of proof is very high, and one common defense is to challenge the evidence related to one or more of the elements of assault. In many cases, it is appropriate to challenge the element of "intentionally," "recklessly," or "knowingly." If you can show that your actions were accidental or cause the jury to doubt that you had the requisite intent, the prosecution will not be able to obtain a conviction.
You may be convicted of aggravated assault if the prosecution proves that you committed misdemeanor assault, and any of certain circumstances also apply. For example, you may be convicted of aggravated assault if you assaulted someone while using a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument, you committed the assault while the victim was physically restrained, or you were 18 or older and the victim was a minor under age 15. If you can show that there is insufficient evidence with regard to one of the additional circumstances, you may be able to negotiate with the prosecution to get a felony aggravated assault charge reduced to misdemeanor simple assault.
Another common defense is to evaluate whether your constitutional rights were violated before or after your arrest. For example, your attorney might investigate whether evidence of a deadly weapon was obtained through an illegal search or whether you were not read your Miranda rights before being interrogated.
Another common defense to assault charges is self-defense. This defense applies in Arizona if you were justified in threatening or using physical force to defend yourself against someone else to the extent that a reasonable person would believe that it was immediately necessary to protect themselves against someone else's use of illegal physical force against them. The level of force that you use in self-defense must be proportionate to the physical force being used against you. For example, if you are being kicked, you may kick back. However, you probably would not be permitted to pull out a gun and fire a shot.
You are also justified in threatening or using deadly physical force against someone else if a reasonable person would believe that it was immediately necessary to use deadly physical force to stop the use of deadly physical force against them. If you are being strangled by someone much stronger than you, for example, and a reasonable person would believe that there was no other way to avoid being killed than to fire a gun at the other person, you may be justified in firing a shot.
You may also raise as a defense that you were defending someone else under ARS 13-406. Under ARS 13-406, you are justified in threatening force or using force to protect someone else to the extent that the other person would be allowed to use force in self-defense.Seek Representation from a Phoenix Lawyer for an Assault Case
A criminal defense lawyer who is knowledgeable about common defenses in assault and aggravated assault cases may make a big difference to the outcome of your case. We are familiar with all of the possible defenses to assault charges, and we can investigate the situation to determine which are likely to be successful. Contact Phoenix attorney James Novak at (480) 413-1499 or via our online form to set up a free consultation. He also represents people who need a misdemeanor or felony attorney in Tempe, Mesa, Chandler, Gilbert, Scottsdale, and other areas of Maricopa County.