What constitutes a violent crime in Arizona?

In Arizona, a number of different criminal charges can fall under the umbrella term of “violent crimes.” While this is not a legal term, it is used on this website to categorize associated criminal charges that share the common theme of the commitment of a violent act. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Assault
  • Domestic violence
  • Kidnapping
  • Unlawful imprisonment
  • Harassment
  • Unlawful discharge of a firearm (Shannon’s Law)
  • Manslaughter
  • Homicide

Regardless of the specific charge in question, if you have been charged with a violent crime in Arizona it is imperative that you seek the advice of a qualified criminal defense attorney immediately. Time is not on your side.

I have been charged with Assault? What should I do next?

Under Arizona law, an assault occurs any time a person causes any physical injury to another individual, whether intentionally or through reckless behavior. An assault may also occur when a person knowingly touches another individual with the intent to injure or provoke, or places another in reasonable fear of imminent injury. Notice that you do not have to cause serious or even appreciable injury to be charged with assault.

Many assault charges are classified as misdemeanors, most commonly class 1. If no appreciable injury occurred or the assault was not intentionally, you may face a lesser charge of class 2 or class 3 misdemeanor. The penalties for a typical class 1 misdemeanor assault range from probation to a maximum 6 months incarceration and a monetary fine of $2,500 plus associated fees. Penalties are decreased for those charges with lesser grade misdemeanors.

What is the difference between assault and domestic violence assault?

An individual who commits assault against a cohabitant, someone they are romantically involved with, or a family member will likely face charges of domestic violence assault. The immediate penalties associated with a charge of domestic violence are similar to those described above for assault. However, there are several long term consequences to consider. Individuals convicted of a domestic violence assault may be prohibited from carrying a firearm. This could cost a security or law enforcement officer their job. In addition, such charges can be used against a defendant in child custody or divorce proceedings.

What is Shannon’s Law?

Shannon Smith was a fourteen your old Phoenix athlete and honor student that had just graduated from 8th grade. In 1999, Shannon Smith was killed by gunfire. The stray bullet in question had fallen from the sky after celebratory gun shots were fired into the air. At the time of her death, the assailant’s actions only constituted misdemeanor charges. To prevent future tragedies, her parents sought change.

Today, Shannon’s Law is defined by A.R.S. §13-3107 “Unlawful Discharge of a Firearm and prohibits an individual from negligently discharging a firearm within or into the limits of any municipality or within one mile of any occupied structure.

Criminal negligence can be defined by the following: with respect to the result, or to a circumstance, a person fails to perceive a substantial and unjustifiable risk the result will occur, or that the circumstance exists. The risk must be of such a nature and degree that failure to perceive it constitutes a gross deviation from the standard of care that a reasonable person would observe in the situation.

In Arizona, a violation of Shannon’s law carries felonious punishment. If convicted, an individual may be charged with a class 6 felony carrying an allegation of dangerousness. Penalties range from 1.5 year period of incarceration to a 6 year period of incarceration depending on the individual’s history of previous offenses. If you have been charged under Shannon’s Law in Arizona, it is important to consult with an experienced criminal defense lawyer to ensure the best possible outcome.