Phoenix Criminal Attorney is a group of highly rated criminal defense attorneys who represent clients accused of threatening or intimidating crimes in Phoenix, AZ. Our attorneys possess in-depth knowledge of Arizona harassment laws and can deal with all cases involving verbal or physical threats. Threatening and intimidating violence in Arizona can attract severe penalties, but with the right attorney, there are various defenses including arguing that there was no actual threat made, self-defense, or the alleged threat was not criminal.
What Is Considered a Threatening or Intimidating Crime in Arizona?
Based on the threatening and intimidating statute in Arizona, it is a crime to threaten violence, severe property damage, or cause serious public inconvenience. The victim doesn’t need to experience any fear or be physical harassed. All they need to do is report the threat. According to ARS 13-1202, most harassment cases are charged as felonies, and they often arise from unconfirmed claims. It means if a person is biased, he or she can exaggerate the story. The majority of these claims are reported by victims who have been frustrated or angered by someone else.
A threat or intimidate crime will be charged as a Class 1 misdemeanor, according to ARS 13-1202(A) (1). In some circumstances, it becomes a class 6 felony where the victim faced threats or intimidation as retaliation for reporting criminal activity or being a member or a street gang. Under ARS 13-1202 (A) (3), a danger is charged as a class 6 felony if street gangs are involved and the intimidation was made to have the victim participate in gang activity or promote a group.
Domestic violence cases involve a lot of threats and intimidation, and often they are charged as misdemeanors. Domestic abuse cases involve various types of relationships, including spouses or exes, dating couples, roommates, couples with kids or pregnant women or parents and kids, siblings, and grandchildren. The majority of domestic violence cases become class 6 felonies because family members retaliate by making threats to victims of violence who call police or law enforcers.
A threat will be charged as a class 3 felony in Arizona if he or she commits assault by intentionally inflicting physical injuries to the victim, knowingly placing a person in a position of imminent bodily harm or deliberately laying hands on another person to provoke them, to cause damage or as a way of insulting them.
A person commits aggravated assault according to Arizona Criminal code 13-1203 if the person causes severe physical injuries to the victim or makes use of a deadly weapon.
Using a Weapon in a Threatening Manner
When you use a weapon to threaten or intimidate in Arizona, you can be charged with domestic abuse or assault. Threatening involves being threatened to cause physical harm or damage to property; the victim threatened to cause public inconvenience or being threatened to cause bodily injury is considered a class 1 misdemeanor. However, the charges change to class 6 felony if a weapon is used in retaliation for a victim reporting crime or domestic abuse. Under A.R.S 13-3102, threatening using a gun is considered misconduct involving a firearm.
The prosecution must prove that the person being prosecuted was carrying a concealed deadly weapon. This helps determine to the court that the defendant would have used the gun to cause more injuries to the victim, a felony, or further offense.
If the weapon was used in a different circumstance like in a school compound, the prosecution could still find a way of making proving you guilty. According to ARS Section 13-1203, the penalties for intimidating with a weapon depend on several circumstances. When facing misconduct using a deadly weapon, you will need an experienced Phoenix Criminal attorney because even a single charge can land you in trouble.
An experienced attorney can use several defenses, including arguing that the weapon was used for other purposes other than intimidating or threatening. You can claim that the gun was for self-defense and if the court believes beyond a reasonable doubt that the gun was for self-defense, then the charges will be dropped. Alternatively, you can argue that the other person or the victim threatened you first.
Consequences of Violating ARS 13-1203
If you are charged with intimidation alone under the ARS 13-1202, you will be charged with a misdemeanor. However, if the intimidation or threatening was retaliation for someone who has reported criminal conduct to the police, then it becomes a class 6 felony. Those who are facing class 1 misdemeanor are likely to spend six months in jail or a fine of $3600. You can also get three-year probation. Domestic violence penalties are a little bit because, despite the sanctions, you might get additional compulsory domestic abuse classes and lose your gun rights.
For a class 6 felony, one can face two years in prison. However, this becomes worse for defendants with previous felony charges because you might meet prison time of up to 5.75 years. A criminal history, such as being involved with a gang can increase this period up to 25 years.
Willful or Reckless Assault
If you accidentally cause harm to another person, you can’t be charged with a misdemeanor. The intention of the offender must be committed to the offense. So, if you injure someone because of recklessness, whereas you were in full knowledge that your actions might cause harm, then it is considered a misdemeanor. Also, if you did the act intentionally or with the whole experience that it was going to cause damage, then it is unlawful.
Consequences of Misdemeanor Assault
If you are charged with provoking someone knowingly through touching to insult or injure or cause them if found guilty, you will face up to 30 days in jail, a fine not exceeding $500 or both. Those who intentionally inflict fear on others can be charged with a class 2 misdemeanor which attracts a jail time not exceeding four months, $750 fine or both the jail time plus fine. Class 1 misdemeanor attracts penalties of up to six months in prison, a fine of not more than $2500 or both if a person intentionally, knowingly or recklessly inflicts physical injuries on another person.
Potential Threatening or Intimidating Defenses
The majority of these cases build evidence focusing on one side of the story. It becomes challenging to fight these charges if the evidence or information given is false. An excellent criminal defense lawyer is essential to ensure the defendant is acquitted of these charges. Some of the common defenses include:
The threat was not genuine
It is not the work of the state of Arizona to prove that the defendant carried out the danger or had intentions of acting on the risk. However, they must show that the defendant truly gave a threat. If the threat isn’t genuine, then it is not illegal. However, if the threat was substantial and the prosecution proves it, then it becomes unlawful. The danger becomes criminal if a reasonable person in the shoes of the defendant would think the threat made would be seen by other people as a serious intention of causing harm on a person or property.
Cases of innocent people being arrested, primarily due to domestic violence, are very many. Remember we said earlier that if the victim is biased, he or she might fabricate or exaggerate the threat. These cases are common in families where one decides to sue the other for threatening a crime due to anger from things like cheating, divorce, custody, or vengeance. If you can prove that the charges you are facing are due to one of these things, then the claim becomes distorted, and it is dismissed.
There are certain times when people act as a result of anger and react to threats and intimidation by filing charges. The majority of these charges are personal, and if the victims change their minds about pressing charges, the case is dropped. Many people who file these claims are overacting, and after some time they decide to drop the charges. If witnesses recant their allegations too, these charges are automatically discarded.
The threat was not criminal
In Arizona, it is unlawful or illegal to make actual threats, be involved in a fight or criminal violence. An offensive or rude behavior, on the other hand, is not unlawful. If the bases for filing criminal charges was due to the defendant being vulgar, offensive, or active in a disrespectful manner, then there will be no charges because these behaviors aren’t criminalized in Arizona.
Defense of Others
According to ARS 13-404, it is justifiable to make a threat of physical force in case of another person if it would be legitimate for the person you are defending to use threats and intimidation as a way of defense. If threats also face you, it is lawful to use threatening or threats to prevent the act of violence. However, the argument will not be legitimate if the threat was a verbal provocation or if the violence was provoked by the defendant.
First Amendment Rights
The U.S government under the 1st and 2nd amendment protects free speech. However, even though there is a right to free speech, words that might cause a violent reaction from reasonable people, also called fighting words are prohibited. Even if you disrespectfully curse someone or rant without a violent response or actual fighting, then that is allowed in the constitution.
If someone intends to use illegal physical force against you, it is permitted in Arizona to threaten or intimidate physical strength for your protection. However, the threat will be unlawful if you were provoked verbally and reacted using power or if triggered violence from the other person.
In case after the arrest, you were denied the right to counsel or were detained without reasonable suspicion; then an excellent criminal lawyer can argue to have the case dismissed. Seizure without probable cause can help in suppressing crucial evidence. If the evidence suppressed was pivotal to the prosecution, then their claim is weakened, and the chances of winning or charges being dismissed are increased.
Self-defense Laws in Arizona and when Physical Force is Permitted
According to A.R.S 13-404, it is justified or authorized to use physical force if you are trying to prevent a serious crime or when a person in their right mind in a similar situation to yours would deem it necessary to threaten physical force to protect him or herself from unlawful physical force.
It is not always that use or threatening assault will be justifiable in Arizona. The use of physical force to protect yourself must be proportionate to the kind of threat you are facing. If it is not proportional and reasonable, then it is not permitted. Also, it will be considered self-defense if the danger was immediate.
The Arizona statute that talks about self-defense is explained further by the Arizona court. The court makes it very clear that threatening physical force is only justifiable if a liberal person in the pl of the offender would believe that it is immediately necessary to protect against the unlawful use of physical force from another person. For the jury to determine the case, they must consider what a reasonable person in the shoes of the defendant would have done and determine if the defendant was under serious threat or danger. If the use of physical force for protection against risk was unreasonable or disproportionate, then that is not allowed under Arizona law, and it will not be a defense. Instead, it will be considered assault.
When is Deadly Force Permitted in Arizona?
If a person feels they are in great danger that could lead to death or serious physical injuries, Arizona Section 13-405 allows the use of deadly force. However, the situation in which this is granted is very few. An Arizona court will find it justifiable to use this kind of power if a liberal-minded person, in a similar situation with the defendant, would have taken the same action to that of the defendant to protect against unlawful deadly force. The force must be immediately necessary, reasonable, and proportional; otherwise, it is not permitted.
For instance, if someone threatens to use a gun on you or points it at you in an intimidating manner, it will be reasonable to cause physical injury to the person or even kill them to save your life. But if someone slapped or verbally threatened you and in the name of protecting yourself you kill the person or severely injure them, then that is unreasonable and disproportionate use of deadly force, and it was not immediately necessary. A jury will find it unlawful.
It is not mandatory you retreat before defending yourself or when facing assault in Arizona. Although there are stand your ground laws that apply mostly on self-defense and defense of other people, always make sure the force used is reasonable, proportional, and immediately necessary. Aside from that, you need the best criminal attorneys in Phoenix, Arizona, for better representation.
Limitations of Self Defense Claims in Arizona
There are cases where one cannot argue self-defense in threatening or intimidating circumstances. If someone insults you or swears to use physical force, if you respond with threats of physical retaliation, a self-defense claim is not going to apply in court. Another incident where self-defense won’t apply in the state of Arizona is if you tried resisting arrest being made by police officers or other law enforcement agencies. Even if you are innocent, it is unlawful to resist arrest from law enforcers. Self-defense can apply if you resisted arrest because the officer making arrest was using illegal and excessive force.
If you didn’t use the physical force immediately and waited for minutes, hours, or weeks to retaliate, then self-defense is ruled out. You should use physical force when the threat is at the present moment and not in the past. For instance, if someone pushes you while you are in class, then wait until the class is over to push the person or threaten them that will no longer be assumed as self-defense. If the threat took place in the past, the right thing to is report.
If you provoked the initial threat or use of force during an encounter, self-defense is not justifiable. However, if you caused the first encounter but then communicated to withdraw, then there will be an exception. You must show the jury that you attempted to stop the confrontation by clear communication, but still, the person tried using physical force hence the reason for self-defense.
Contact a Phoenix Criminal Lawyer Near Me
If you are charged for threatening or intimidating a person using a deadly weapon or verbally, there are severe consequences you may be facing, including jail time. Having the highly experienced Phoenix Criminal Attorney to present a strong defense for your case is critical. We represent defendants from all over Phoenix, AZ. In case you need our services, contact us at 602-551-8092 and speak to one of our attorneys today.