Just like in other states, the Arizona criminal justice system takes violent crimes involving the assault of a public safety officer very seriously. Anyone who is charged with this offense is prosecuted harshly, and it is common for prosecutors to insist on maximum sentencing. For this reason, you should put your trust in an equally aggressive criminal defense attorney.
When you hire Phoenix Criminal Attorney, you can expect nothing less. With our longstanding experience, we have pursued cases against people who have been charged with assaulting public safety officers. We can use this experience to defend your rights and freedom. We perfectly understand what it takes to win such a difficult case, even when we are going head to head with the full weight of the law.
Who is a Public Safety Officer in Arizona?
According to ARS § 13-1204(A)(8), a public safety officer is any one of the following, who is engaged in official duties:
Peace officers, i.e. law enforcement officers
Code enforcement officers
State or municipal park ranger
Firefighters, investigators, and inspectors
Emergency medical technicians
Teachers and other school employees
When any of the above public safety officers is the victim of an assault crime, the offense is automatically considered an aggravated assault. If you are accused of assaulting a public safety officer, you could face felony charges. This is especially if you committed the offense knowing or having enough reason to know that the person you were assaulting was a public safety officer.
Nevertheless, being accused of this crime doesn’t necessarily mean that you will be convicted. It is crucial to be familiar with all of your options when you are facing such a criminal charge. Firstly, you have the right to legal counsel and the right to defend yourself against this serious charge. A criminal defense attorney from Phoenix Criminal Attorney can help you fight the conviction and safeguard your reputation.
Penalties for Assaulting a Public Safety Officer
According to Arizona laws, any type of assault against a public safety officer is a felony offense that attracts an aggravated assault charge that could lead to steep fines, years in prison, or both. In addition to being labeled a convicted felon, an aggravated assault conviction could mean bearing the heavy burden of a criminal record that carries additional dire consequences.
The severity of the resulting penalties for assaulting a public safety officer is usually determined by the particular elements of the crime committed. For instance:
You may be charged with a Class 5 felony if you were charged with assaulting a public safety officer while he or she was executing his or her official duties. The penalty for a Class 5 felony is a presumptive term of 2 years in prison.
You can be charged with a Class 4 felony if the assault on the public safety officer caused any type of bodily harm. The penalty for a Class 4 felony is a presumptive term of 2 years and 6 months in prison.
You can be charged with a Class 3 felony if the public safety officer suffered a fracture to any part of his or her body, impairment or loss of any body part, or substantial disfigurement. You can also be charged with a Class 3 felony if you took or attempted to take a police officer’s firearm, weapon other than a firearm, or an object that is capable of injuring or restraining an individual, excluding handcuffs. The penalty for a Class 3 felony is a presumptive term of 3 years and 6 months in prison.
You can be charged with a Class 2 Felony if you used a deadly or dangerous weapon or instrument to assault a public safety officer and the officer sustained serious physical injuries as a result. The penalty for a Class 2 felony is a presumptive term of 5 years in prison.
Note that your attempt at resisting arrest by a police officer can also result in a charge of aggravated assault on the police officer. Prosecutors can construe a mere brushing up against or touching a public safety officer while attempting to evade arrest as an assault.
Once you contact Phoenix Criminal Attorney, our criminal defense attorney will act immediately to determine what actually happened. With the help of a private investigator, we will review the sequence of events in question and preserve crucial evidence.
Penalties for First-time Assault
If you are accused of assaulting a public safety officer, you will be charged with aggravated assault and will face felony charges even if this is your first-time offense. Typically, this could either be a Class 3 or Class 4 felony charge and there is a high probability that you will be sent to prison, even if it is your first offense.
In Arizona, the presumptive term for a Class 3 aggravated assault on a public safety officer is 7.5 years. Nevertheless, a highly skilled and experienced criminal defense attorney can work hard to ensure that the judge considers any justifying factors that may result in a lenient sentence, including your lack of a prior criminal record.
Penalties for Assault with Prior Assault Convictions
In case you have a previous conviction for assault within the last 2 years, you are likely to be sentenced for a higher class of offense. Under ARS 13-703, if you are convicted of a felony and have a previous felony conviction, with some exceptions, you are charged with a category 2 repetitive offender. If you have been convicted of a felony with at least two prior felony convictions, then you will be sentenced as a category three repetitive offender.
With at least two serious offenses not committed on the same occasion, you may face life imprisonment without pardon, probation, release from confinement, or suspension of your sentence until you have served not less than 25 years or the sentence is commuted.
Consequences Resulting from a Conviction for Assault on a Public Safety Officer
Being convicted for assault on a public safety officer comes with various dire consequences. Besides being robbed of your freedom for several years, you will also:
Become ineligible for sentence suspension, minimized sentencing, or release under any conditions until you serve the sentence as ordered by the presiding judge. This will also apply if you used a dangerous instrument or deadly weapon when you were committing the crime.
You will have a permanent criminal record even if you are a first time offender. This means that after you are convicted for assaulting a public safety officer, you will not be able to wipe your criminal record clean through sealing or expungement.
Your ability to get a job or to rent an apartment will be greatly affected. With a criminal record, not so many employers and landlords will be willing to overlook your criminal record.
To avoid being convicted and experiencing the above dire consequences, it is important that you hire a competent criminal defense lawyer right away. Our criminal defense attorney will do whatever possible to obtain a dismissal of your charges for assault on a public safety officer. If this is not an option, our defense attorney may seek to obtain a reduction of your assault charge. You can trust our firm to offer superior advocacy at every stage of the intricate legal process.
What the Prosecution Needs to Prove in Order to Convict you of Assault
To get a conviction for assault on a public safety officer, the prosecution must prove beyond reasonable doubt that:
You deliberately, knowingly, or recklessly injured a public safety officer,
You deliberately put a public safety officer in reasonable apprehension of imminent bodily harm,
You knowingly touched a public safety officer with the intention to insult, provoke, or injure him or her.
The burden of proof is generally very high, and one type of powerful evidence that the prosecution can use in an aggravated assault case is witness testimony. Under Arizona rules, a witness is a person whose testimony under oath or affirmation is presented as evidence for any purpose. A witness can be the victim, an eye witness, the supposed perpetrator, and in some instances, an expert.
At times, prosecutors decide to go on with aggravated assault charges even if the victim chooses not to testify. One of the reasons why the victim may decide not to testify is if there is a surveillance videotape, a recording of a 911 call, or any other evidence that can be used in lieu of victim testimony about what occurred.
Common Defenses in Assault on a Public Safety Officer Cases
Your criminal defense attorney can be able to get you acquitted if he or she can use the following defenses:
Lack of requisite intent
One of the commonest defenses used by criminal defense attorneys is to dispute the element of “deliberately”, “knowingly,” or “recklessly”. So, your defense attorney should strive to prove that your actions were purely accidental. If your attorney can make the judge and the jury to doubt that you had the requisite intention, it will be very hard for the prosecution to obtain a conviction.
Lack of evidence
The prosecution can get you convicted if it proves that you committed aggravated assault on a public safety officer while using a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument. One of the defenses that your criminal defense lawyer can use is to show that there is inadequate evidence with regards to the accusation. If the prosecution has insufficient evidence, your criminal defense attorney can negotiate to get a felony aggravated assault charge reduced.
Hearsay evidence consists of statements made out of court, usually put forward so as to prove the truth of what was said. In Arizona, there is a rule against hearsay evidence. However, there is an exception for excited utterances. An experienced criminal defense lawyer can evaluate whether this exception may apply to any of the evidence presented in your case.
If you believe that the prosecutor will utilize witness testimony against you in order to try to obtain a conviction for assault on a public safety officer, our highly skilled and experienced crimes defense attorney, Jose A. Saldivar can help. He has diligently represented many defendants in both federal and Arizona state courts and is well-versed in the use of witness testimony in assault cases.
Violation of constitutional rights
Another common defense that could be used by your criminal defense attorney is to establish whether your constitutional rights were violated before and/or after your arrest. For instance; your criminal defense attorney can argue that you were not read your Miranda rights before being interrogated, or that the evidence of a deadly weapon was obtained through an illegal search.
Your criminal defense attorney could also argue that even if you threatened a public safety officer, the threat was not accompanied by any other acts. If the attorney can prove to the judge and the jury that you didn’t make good on your threat, then you will not be found guilty of aggravated assault.
If you threatened a public safety officer, and then the officer egged you on or taunted you after you made your threat, then any claims of assault made afterward by the officer will be deemed petty or unreasonable. Your criminal defense attorney could argue that the public safety officer did not show fear at the time you made the threat.
Lack of required mental state
The mental disorder defense also referred to as the insanity defense, is a confirmatory defense by excuse in a criminal case. In such a case, your criminal defense attorney may argue that you are not responsible for your actions due to a persistent or episodic psychiatric disease at the time of the assault.
In Arizona, the burden of proving insanity is placed on the defendant. This means that your criminal defense attorney must prove insanity by clear and convincing evidence. With a tenacious defense attorney presenting your side of the story, you may be acquitted or your sentence may be reduced.
One of the most successful defenses to assault on a public safety officer is self-defense. This defense applies in Arizona if you committed aggravated assault against a public safety officer who was trying to harm you. The charges will probably be dropped if your criminal defense attorney can prove to the extent that the judge and the jury would believe that you were justified in using physical force to defend yourself against a public safety officer’s use of illegal physical force against you.
Nevertheless, the level of force that you use in self-defense must be proportionate to the force being used against you. For instance; if a public safety officer kicked you and you kicked back, your criminal defense attorney can argue self-defense and get your charges dropped. However, if the public safety officer kicked you and you pulled out a gun and fired a shot, the “self-defense” argument may not necessarily lead to an acquittal.
On the other hand, your criminal defense attorney could argue that you were justified in using physical force against a public safety officer to stop the use of deadly physical force against you. For instance; if you were being strangled by a public safety officer who is much stronger than you are, then your criminal defense attorney can argue that there was no other way you could have avoided being killed other than using deadly physical force.
Your criminal defense attorney may also raise as a defense that you were defending another person under ARS 13-406. Under this section, you are justified in using force to defend another person to the extent that the other person would be permitted to use force in self-defense. You may also be justified in using force to defend property.
A criminal defense attorney who is familiar with the powerful defenses in assault cases can make a huge difference to the outcome of your assault on a public safety officer case. Attorneys at Phoenix Criminal Attorney are knowledgeable about all the possible defenses that can be used during a case involving an assault on a public safety officer. Once you hire our attorney, we will investigate the situation thoroughly to determine which defenses are likely to be successful.
Consult a Phoenix Assault Attorney Today
The criminal defense attorneys at Phoenix Criminal Attorney can help you build a viable defense against serious charges of assault on a public safety officer brought against you. Our criminal defense attorneys have represented many people facing assault charges and have managed to obtain successful results. If you believe that you have been wrongly charged with this serious crime, do not hesitate to contact our law firm right away.