Even though it might appear as if the criminal conduct in threats or intimidation is a lesser charge than other violent crimes in Arizona, prosecutors and police officers take these cases with a lot of weight and could result in misdemeanor or felony charges and penalties. As per ARS 13-1202, the crime is committed if you use verbal or physical threats to intimidate the victim.
These offenses are common in domestic violence cases where one partner or family member is highly motivated to get revenge. Most cases stem from unconfirmed claims where it is the word of the victim against yours. Remember, in most of these cases, you end up with a conviction even without any physical contact with the alleged victim. It means even an innocent person might end up with a wrongful conviction which is why you need a criminal defense attorney to contest the charges.
At Phoenix Criminal Attorney, we understand that most domestic abuse cases have very little or no evidence. It is the word of one person against the other. For this reason, if you are facing charges of threatening or intimidating concerning domestic violence, we are here to ensure you avoid the penalties of a conviction.
Defining Threatening or Intimidating in Arizona
For you to secure the appropriate legal assistance and come up with the right defense for charges of threatening or intimidating, you must begin by understanding the definition of the crime. Under ARS 13-1202, it is a crime to intimidate or make threats verbally or through conduct to:
- Cause physical or verbal injuries to another individual
- Cause serious vandalism or property damage on someone else’s property
- Cause or in reckless disregard for causing severe public inconveniences like evacuation from a premises, place of gathering, or a transportation facility.
- Inflict injuries or cause significant property damage to promote or facilitate the interests of a gang, induce or urge someone to take part in a criminal syndicate or street gang.
Note that under this statute, the victim doesn’t need to experience fear or any form of physical harassment. All they should do is report the threat or intimidation to the relevant authorities. What is crucial to note about this crime is that cases about harassment are filed as felonies, although most of them are allegations whose source is uncorroborated. Because of this, most of these cases involve biased or exaggerated stories where the victims are angered or frustrated partners or family members seeking vengeance.
As per ARS 13-1202 Subsection A (1) or (2), a threat or intimidation crime is classified as a misdemeanor. However, under unique circumstances, the offense becomes a class 6 felony. These circumstances are:
- If the criminal conduct was conducted in retribution for the victim, either reporting the activities of a criminal gang or being a member of an organization, other than law enforcement agencies mandated with the responsibility to report or thwart crime.
- If the person is a member of a racketeering enterprise or criminal organization
Also, pursuant of threats or intimidation offense subsection A, paragraph three, if a street gang is involved in the threats or intimidation to make the victim take part in criminal activity or promote the criminal organization, the offense is classified as a class 6 felony.
In domestic abuse cases, the crime of threatening or intimidating is common, and it's usually registered as a misdemeanor. Keep in mind that domestic violence is not only limited to spouses or ex-partners, but it also includes the following forms of relationships:
- Dating couples
- Intimate partners with a kid or pregnant woman in common
- Parents and their children
In most domestic violence incidents, where the victim of the violence contacts the police or law enforcement but you retaliate by making threats or intimidations, you will be charged with a class 6 felony.
You, as the defendant, will be subject to class 3 felony charges if you assault someone by willfully inflicting bodily injuries. Also, deliberately placing a person in a position, they are likely to suffer imminent physical harm or knowingly touch another person to provoke, insult them, or cause damage amounts to this class of felony.
Threatening and Intimidating Using a Weapon
When you make use of a weapon to make threats or intimidate someone else in Arizona, you may end up with domestic violence or assault charges. According to ARS 13-1202, it is a crime to use a weapon to make threats or intimidation. Under the statute:
- If you threaten to inflict physical injuries on someone else or cause property damages while raising or flourishing a weapon, you will be subject to criminal charges.
- If you threaten to cause public inconvenience like evacuation or any sort of disruption to daily life while brandishing a weapon, you will face criminal charges under class 1 misdemeanor.
- If you make threats about a criminal street gang or criminal syndicate while wielding a weapon, you will face charges for making threats using a weapon.
The consequences for a conviction for threats and intimidation using a weapon will vary from class 1 misdemeanor to class 3 felony. However, if you make threats to a person while brandishing a weapon because they have reported domestic abuse, you will be subject to penalties under class 6 felony. When you make threats under this statute using a gun, you will be accused and charged with misconduct with a firearm.
During the prosecution of misconduct involving a gun, the prosecutor must demonstrate that you owned a concealed deadly weapon to help the jury or court determine if you intended to use the firearm to inflict more physical injuries, commit a felony, or further criminal activities.
Note that the prosecutor will do anything to prove you are guilty of misconduct involving a deadly weapon, even if the circumstances of the case are different. For this reason, you will need to enlist the services of Phoenix Criminal Attorney to prevent charges or a conviction. A proficient criminal defense attorney will argue that you had the gun, but it wasn’t meant for threats or intimidation. Instead, the firearm was for self-protection or that the victim made the threats first, which is why you held your weapon to neutralize the threats. That way, the ARS 13-1203 charges will be lowered or dismissed.
Consequences for Threatening or Intimidating Under ARS Sec 13-1202
The majority of threats or intimidation cases are registered in court as misdemeanors. Upon conviction for a class 1 misdemeanor, you will face no more than a half a year in jail, at most three years of misdemeanor probation or a fine of three thousand, six hundred dollars. In this case, where the crime is charged to domestic violence, you risk additional consequences like mandatory domestic violence classes and loss of firearm rights.
As stated earlier, if you make threats or intimidate a victim of domestic violence for reporting a crime, the offense will be filed as a class 6 felony. Upon sentencing, you will end up spending a maximum of twenty-four months in prison. However, the prison incarceration will be enhanced to up to sixty-nine months if you have a prior felony conviction on your criminal history.
Note that when facing felony threatening and intimidation charges, you might end up facing a maximum of twenty-five years in prison. This will be the case if you are a gang member who made threats to a partner, spouse or ex-spouse, family member, or a sibling during domestic abuse or after the person has reported the activities of your criminal syndicate to law enforcers.
Additionally, if you are convicted of domestic violence, you will be required to undergo court-imposed counseling, which lasts for several months. The court may also restrict you from speaking to the victim. This is likely to affect your family or relationship, resulting in loss of custodial rights and restricted child visitation.
A criminal conviction record for domestic violence will also deny you new job opportunities or promotions. Therefore, if you have been charged with threats or intimidation concerning domestic violence, you should understand that you may end up with life-changing consequences. Thankfully, with the guidance of Phoenix Criminal Attorney, you can put up the right legal defense strategies to lower a class 6 felony to a class 1 misdemeanor or have the charges removed.
Legal Defenses for Threatening or Intimidating
Threatening or intimidating cases are usually subjective, which means the charges are solely based on allegations with no evidence. Each side presents its case, and it’s up to the jury or courts to weigh the evidence presented and differentiate facts from falsehood. And because there is no specific test for establishing who is telling the truth and who is lying, the experience and knowledge of your criminal defense attorney will determine if you win or lose the case.
Legal defense attorneys at Phoenix Criminal Attorney will look for and try to identify inaccurate info or statements in the prosecution’s evidence to find ways to contest the charges. Discussed below are some of the legal defenses we will apply during your ARS 13-1202 violation charge:
It is common, especially in domestic violence cases for victims to fabricate or distort the truth. In such events, an innocent person may end up being arrested and charged because the victim is seeking revenge, custody, divorce, or cheating. These cases are standard because in threatening or intimidating situations, there is no requirement for the victim to sustain physical injuries or for property to be damaged for the crime to occur. For this reason, if there is no verbal threat, written or electronic recording to prove threats or intimidation, one could make false allegations.
For you to prove the claim is distorted or fabricated, you must present facts to demonstrate that the charges are due to anger, spite, jealousy, or revenge by the victim. This is usually hard to prove for many defense attorneys. Thankfully, at Phoenix Criminal Attorney, we engage former law enforcers and prosecutors in our cases. The skills and years of experience help us detect inconsistencies in the victim’s statements to prove that the claim is fabricated or the victim is lying. After that, our attorneys will go-ahead to show the correct events that unfolded, which helps clear your name.
The Threat was Ambiguous or Wasn’t Truly Genuine
In Phoenix, AZ, the prosecution doesn’t need to show that you intended to carry out a threat, was able to act on it, or acted wrongfully. Instead, he or she is required to demonstrate that the threats were real. They do this by proving that a sober person under similar circumstances would think that statement that you made was a severe indicator of you wanting to cause injury or property damage hence amounting to a genuine threat. The only danger that is criminal is a genuine one. So, if your attorney can prove the threat made was vague or conditional, then it won’t be a true or specific threat, which means it is not illegal.
A threat can only be unlawful if it is genuine, or the defendant wanted to carry it out. If you can prove the threat was not legitimate, you will not have committed any crime, so the court will find you innocent.
Many cases of threatening or intimidating pertaining to domestic violence usually involve anger. One of the spouses or partners takes a threat or intimidation by the other partner seriously out of anger and file charges. When these victims cool off, and the dust settles, they change their mind and recant their claims, which results in the withdrawal of the charges. Although withdrawn claims aren’t technically a legal defense, if a victim is uncooperative with the prosecution or wants the charges dismissed, the prosecution cannot go on with the case because of a lack of facts. For this reason, the charges are dropped.
As per ARS 13-1204, if someone wants to use illegal physical force on you, the law allows you to threaten or intimidate physical strength for self-protection. However, the energy used to repel the threat must be lawful or reasonable. If someone made a verbal threat and you reacted using unlawful force, the court won’t consider it self-defense. The same case will apply if you provoked or triggered violence from the victim. Your threats or intimidation to the victim will not be justified.
However, if you caused the first provocation but then indicated to the victim that you have withdrawn from the confrontation, there will be an immunity. Your attorney must demonstrate that you attempted to withdraw from the fight using clear communication. However, still, the victim went on to use illegal physical force hence the reason for self-defense.
In a similar situation, the use of threats or intimidation is justifiable if you do it to protect or defend another person from illegal physical power from the victim. Even under this situation, the argument will not hold in court if you used threats or intimidation because someone else was verbally provoked or you triggered the violence.
If a person made a threat and it took you days, weeks, or months to hit back, then self-protection is ruled out. The danger must be present, or if it took place in the past, it must have been reported.
The Alleged Threat Wasn’t Criminal
Unlawful conduct in Arizona involves participating in violent fights or making actual threats to harm somebody, damage property, or cause public inconvenience. Rude or offensive behavior doesn’t amount to criminal or illegal conduct. If you are accused of threatening or intimidating because you were naughty or acted with disrespect towards the victim, then the threat isn’t criminal, and the charges should be dropped.
The Threat was Protected as Free Speech
ARS 13-1202 is there to protect people from those who instill fear and not those who go ranting or making mere utterances. The United States government protects free speech under the 1st and 14th amendments. However, you should note that although you have a right to free speech, the right is not absolute. Using fighting words is illegal as long as it might provoke a violent reaction from the other party. Still, if you go on a rant or disrespecting people if it doesn’t trigger a violent response, you are innocent. A proficient attorney will apply this defense where you are facing ARS 13-1202 violation charges because of a verbal provocation.
Violation of Constitution Rights
Whenever police are making an arrest or detaining a suspect, the law requires that they have a probable cause; otherwise, the arrest will be unlawful. The same applies to search and seizure. Law enforcers must have a search warrant; otherwise, all the evidence gathered from the search will be inadmissible in court. An officer should also recite the Miranda rights. If this didn’t happen in your case, your constitutional rights were violated, and a defense attorney could use this assertion to have the case dismissed.
Find a Criminal Defense Attorney Near Me
If you have been arrested and charged with threatening or intimidating concerning domestic violence, you will be subject to severe consequences. Thankfully, with the services of Phoenix Criminal Attorney, you can successfully defend against the charges. Contact us at 602-551-8092 if you are facing these charges and allow us to fight for your rights.