Committing a violent offense is a serious violation that attracts severe penalties in Arizona. Upon facing arrest, you may be unsure of the subsequent procedures you should undertake when charged with a violent crime. Therefore, learning different elements, penalties, aggravating factors, and possible defenses of these crimes is crucial to fighting your criminal case.

Normally, you require a criminal attorney’s guide to navigate the various criminal processes and meet particular requirements before the trial. Moreover, your attorney will explain the reason behind the charges you face by dissecting your case facts and determining possible faults.

When working on your matter, you want the confidence and satisfaction you are in the hands of an experienced professional who understands the prerequisites of any violent crime defense. At Phoenix criminal Lawyer, we work hard to provide our clients with the best criminal defense services in Phoenix, Arizona.

Our skilled team is well equipped to deal with different criminal cases and apply the necessary knowledge. You have better chances of achieving a favorable case outcome through our assistance, for instance, a significant sentence reduction or dismissal of the charges.

Understanding the Nature of Violent Offenses

The Arizona Revised Statute provides for numerous criminal violations, including violent crimes. However, you may require additional information to help you classify your case facts in the correct category as you prepare to face a judge or jury. Due to this, you want to learn the general overview of these types of offenses.

As the name suggests, violent crimes should involve the use of force by the perpetrator against the victim, leading to exposure to physical harm. Most cases result in the victim sustaining serious physical injuries from the attack, warranting the criminal process against the defendant.

Additionally, some suspects may include additional weapons or tactics when attacking the alleged victims. For example, committing violent crimes using deadly weapons like guns or sharp knives is considered a serious offense. Typically, the person facing violence may have little to no chance of evading the offender’s actions, primarily if he/she used the deadly weapon as a tool to enforce compliance from the victim.

When the prosecutor takes over your case, he/she will exercise discretion on the type of charges to press against you, depending on the victim of your actions. Thus, the consequences to face may vary greatly based on the victim’s profile to protect him/her.

For example, violent offenses involving minors under fifteen years are more likely to attract harsher penalties than when the victim is an adult. This is because the adult may have the capacity to defend himself/herself adequately. Similarly, attacking a pregnant person leads to more severe punishment as he/she is a vulnerable member of society.

You should also note that violent crime ranges in intensity, meaning that the offender may commit the offense in its simplest or most aggravated form. Incessantly, the investigating officers conduct in-depth investigations to reveal the accurate case facts required before the judge or jury in court. Depending on the severity of your crime, you may receive a lenient or enhanced sentence.

Therefore, working with a criminal attorney as soon as you learn of the charges to face is recommended. By engaging with him/her, you will prepare adequately and determine the best approaches to take when the matter comes up in criminal proceedings.

The criminal process also includes the standard of proof imposed on a prosecutor to prove your guilt beyond any reasonable doubt. Due to this, you can expect him/her to engage in a thorough quest for evidence against you. Your lawyer should be equipped to handle the information and counter it for your benefit from the prosecutor’s intentions.

Apart from that, learning of the specific violent crime charged against you can help you prepare the most appropriate defenses to apply as you seek to persuade the judge or jury of your innocence. The following are the common violent crimes punishable under Arizona law:

  1. Aggravated Assault

The term ‘aggravated’ means a worse form of something with more intensity or severity towards the circumstances or action. Based on this definition, aggravated assault involves the use of unjustified force to assault the alleged victim. Section 13-1204 prohibits citizens in Arizona from engaging in the offense by stipulating the elements of crime associated with it, the penalties, and the forms of the crime.

By understanding the elements related to aggravated assault, you will clearly define what the prosecutor will present against you in court. On top of that, you can use the details to determine whether you faced a lawful arrest process based on the accuracy of the facts. The elements of crime in the offense are:

You Willingly Injured the Victim

The intent is one of the main elements in any crime, as it demonstrates the mental state associated with committing the offense. Therefore, a prosecutor must present credible arguments and evidence to support the accusation, as it plays a primary role in the final determination.

Proving the accused person’s intention often involves assessing his/her activities to acquire more details on his mental state during the commission of the crime. For example, if you asked the victim to move to a secluded area so that he/she could not access help or back up from your attacks, the judge may infer a deliberate action.

You must have also acted knowingly, meaning that your violent act was not an accident or an involuntary body reflex. Evidence to prove that you knew what you were doing may come from the victim’s testimony, as well as from witnesses and surveillance footage.

You Touched the Victim Deliberately to Provoke or Insult Him/Her

Apart from trying to injure the alleged victim, you may also be guilty of trying to provoke him/her or insult the person based on inappropriate touch. The circumstances may occur when you have been trying to receive attention from the other person unsuccessfully. Other times, you may have acted with malicious intent to anger the person. Regardless of the underlying goal, the prosecutor will attempt to prove your guilt by presenting evidence to show that you acted knowingly. Your actions caused considerable unrest in the victim.

You Caused the Victim Reasonable Apprehension or Fear of Danger

Since assault does not necessarily have to include physical contact, you may also face the charge for causing significant apprehension to the victim. Nevertheless, the actions causing fear should include violence for the judge to consider the presented charge.

For example, you may visit the victim’s house while in possession of a deadly weapon, intending to scare the other person. In adverse cases, you may even exert physical harm and cause severe injuries. The judge, therefore, assesses the facts of each case and decides on the final verdict depending on the circumstances.

Based on the three elements, a suspect may commit aggravated assault in various forms. The underlying element should be that they all exhibit violence against the victim for the charges to be actionable. Common activities associated with aggravated assault include causing mild to severe injuries to the victim. In some cases, these injuries may result in amputations, permanent disfigurements, or severe post-traumatic stress disorder.

Aggravating Factors in the Crime

While the offense is charged in its aggravated form, you should remember that some factors may worsen the case circumstances, attracting harsher penalties. For example, if you are above eighteen years and assaulted a minor below fifteen, the sentencing policies may change to your detriment.

Similarly, if any deaths or irreversible health conditions arise from your attack on the victim, you will face harsher repercussions. Using a deadly weapon and having a criminal record will also disadvantage you, as the judge may choose to apply the recommended sentence enhancements.

Penalties for Aggravated Assault

Upon being found guilty, you will face sentencing. The severity of the punishment issued depends on the class of felonies assigned to your offense. The following are the penalties for the various classes:

  • Class 2 offenders risk facing seven to twenty-one years of incarceration
  • Class 3 offenders may face a maximum of fifteen years behind bars
  • Class 4 offenders could face four to eight-year sentences
  • Class 5 offenders risk facing two to four-year sentences
  • Class 6 offenders may spend one and a half years to three years in jail
  1. Domestic Violence

Another prevalent violent crime in Arizona is domestic violence. The violent crime type involves members of a household as the perpetrators and victims. To aid the prosecution, specifications on who the law considers a domestic member are relevant. Thus, violence toward or causing harm to the following persons is considered domestic violence:

  • Your current or former spouse.
  • A person with whom you have a child.
  • Your children or any minor living with you.
  • Anyone related to you through consanguinity including your uncles, aunts, grandparents, cousins, brothers, and sisters-in-law among others.
  • A person expecting your child at the time of committing the crime.
  • People you are involved in a romantic relationship with, like your fiance, boyfriend, or girlfriend.
  • A person with whom you cohabit.

Anyone found guilty of domestic violence violates section 13-306 of the Arizona Revised Statutes and risks facing a significant time in incarceration. Subsequently, you want to understand the various elements of crime associated with the charge and prepare yourself for trial. The prosecutor relies on the following elements to prove your involvement in the offense:

You Knowingly Inflicted Harm on the Victim

As mentioned above, specific groups of people are included in domestic violence laws as potential victims. Therefore, the prosecutor should prove that you knowingly inflicted harm to the person by exerting force or throwing objects at him/her.

The scope of domestic violence varies greatly to include actions like a simple battery to aggravated harm using weapons or extreme force. Subsequently, the prosecutor will gather the information presented by investigating officers to assess the best details to use against you.

Proving that your actions were willful, intentional, or reckless is also vital when presenting this element of crime because the criminal intent must be depicted. Thus, harm caused by accidental infliction of pain or from a genuine mistake may be discarded in the interest of a fair criminal trial. Nevertheless, the judge and jury hold discretion in determining the final verdict based on the presented evidence.

You Caused the Alleged Victim Reasonable Fear of Physical Danger

The prosecutor should also show that your actions resulted in the alleged victim feeling unsafe and in constant fear of impending danger. You may have done this by stalking the person, even when the court issued a restraining order. Alternatively, if you are still living together, you may have posed continuous threats to the victim and occasionally actualized these threats.

Touching the Victim With the Intent to Provoke or Insult Him/Her

While most domestic violence cases involve extreme levels of physical abuse, you may also face a conviction for touching the victim inappropriately. This may be the case, especially in cases involving minors who cannot speak up for themselves. You should keep in mind that domestic violence involving minors may lead to harsher penalties, depending on specific circumstances.

The consequences of a guilty verdict in a domestic violence case include facing felony charges under different classes. Consequently, you may spend between six months, five years, or more behind bars.

  1. Kidnapping Crime

Thirdly, holding a victim without their consent is a punishable offense, according to section 13-1304 of the revised statutes. The elements of the crime are:

Forcefully Detaining the Alleged Victim

The prosecutor’s main task will be to prove that the victim did not consent to leave with you or being detained in the location where he/she was rescued. To do this, he/she may be asked to testify on the course of events that occurred before and during the crime. For example, if you and others physically restrict the victim by tying him/her up and transporting the person to a different location, it will be a forceful encounter.

You Exposed the Victim to Danger

Moreover, the prosecutor should prove that your actions exposed the victim to harm, either directly from you or from the harsh conditions you subjected to the person. For example, denying the victim food or beating him/her may cause severe bodily harm that requires immediate medical attention.

Penalties for the Crime

The penalties issued by the judge will depend on the type of actions you committed against the victim. Thus, aggravating or mitigating factors may greatly influence your outcome. Class 2 felonies are reserved for offenders who committed the worst form of crime. They may have sexually assaulted the victim, refused to let him/her go even after initial police efforts, and caused bodily injuries.

Class 3 felonies are assigned to defendants who had to negotiate with law enforcement officers before releasing the victim but did not cause any harm. Lastly, class 4 felonies apply to offenders who did not expose the victim to any physical harm, including sexual assault. They will have also let the victim go without exposing him/her to harm.

Applicable Defenses to Violent Offenses in Arizona

After the prosecutor presents his or her case against you, your lawyer will have a chance to present counter-arguments as defenses on your behalf. This stage of the trial is vital towards the final determination, as your attorney can successfully cast doubt on some of the prosecutor’s arguments.

Since the law imposes a high standard of proof on the prosecution to prove a criminal case beyond any reasonable doubt, the defense can weaken the opposing team’s argument. Eventually, the judge will consider the possibility of your innocence or justified reasons for acting violently. If successful, you may face an acquittal or, at least, a more lenient sentence.

However, you should note that the discussed defenses are not universally applicable, so you will have to consult your lawyer further to understand their application better. Nevertheless, since they are commonly used, you may have an easier time using the arguments in your case. The common defenses include:

You Did Not Have Criminal Intent

The two main elements that a prosecutor must prove in any criminal case are the actual criminal activity and the criminal intent that drove the offender to break the law. Without providing sufficient proof on the existence of these elements, you may have a chance to provide an alternative argument and avoid facing a conviction,

The lack of intent to commit a violent offense often occurs when the violent activities occurred as an accident. For example, if you accidentally hit your spouse because you genuinely thought he/she was a burglar trying to break into your house, you may justify your argument.

Some applicable scenarios where the defense applies include when the spouse had traveled or was away from home, meaning that you did not expect him/her to return any time soon. Your violent act can be defended as an accident or misconstrued facts. However, this defense cannot work in crimes like kidnapping, as you must have actively engaged in the forceful restraint of the victim.

You Acted in Self-Defense

Alternatively, you may argue that your criminal actions were in self-defense, as you attempted to protect yourself from the attacker who now claims to be the victim. However, you will also have to prove several elements before the judge and jury can accept your defense. The existing limitations are applied to prevent wrongdoers from having an easy way out, using self-defense as the argument.

As a result, you must prove that you faced real danger from the other party, prompting you to react in self-defense. You should show that the other person threatened you or even attacked you first from this requirement. You may provide this information from gathered evidence, including witness testimonies from people who watched the violence unfold.

Moreover, you must show that you used reasonable force that was proportional to the kind of threat you faced. For example, if the other party slapped you and you retaliated by shooting him/her, you will have used excessive force. Consequently, your defense will be unacceptable, leading to a conviction.

Lastly, some judges may require you to prove that retaliating in self-defense was the only available option. This may be the case when you were restricted from running away or screaming for help. The judge will want to assert that your violent actions in self-defense were genuine and not fueled by vengeance or malice by requiring the defendant.

You Acted Under Duress

Thirdly, some defendants may face legal consequences for actions that were forcefully imposed on them. For example, if you were forcefully recruited into a gang involved in the carjacking, you may have limited opportunities to refuse to participate in the crimes. Moreover, you may have been a hostage or a trafficked victim who is constantly used as a pawn to commit offenses on behalf of powerful third parties.

Presenting this defense in court will require you to provide strong evidence against the perpetrators. This is because courts are aware of different defendants who may attempt to use any defense to evade a prison sentence. Thus, you should be ready and willing to name specific persons who imposed duress on you to commit crimes.

Your lawyer can take you through the important steps to follow before presenting this argument, as well as the possible outcomes. Sometimes, relying on the argument of duress may not save you from facing a conviction, even after revealing the other perpetrators’ identities. Thus, we recommend reviewing your options before deciding to apply the defense,

Contact a Phoenix Criminal Lawyer Near Me

When you face criminal charges for committing a violent crime, the subsequent events may be quite stressful. The victims will work with the prosecutor to obtain evidence for use against you, meaning you risk being convicted if found guilty. Moreover, you may face substantial challenges in trying to reintegrate into society after serving a sentence for committing a violent offense.

Additionally, you may not know what to expect when in police custody and during the trial. As a result, you risk being unprepared and facing harsh penalties. Therefore, working with a criminal defense lawyer can help you access reliable legal services to increase the chances of a positive outcome.

Choosing the Phoenix Criminal Lawyer to represent you in your criminal case is an excellent move, as you are well equipped to combat the prosecutor’s accusations. Over the years, we have handled different criminal matters involving violent crimes and have successfully represented clients in court. If you or a loved one is facing a violent crime charge, contact us today at 626-626-7075.