Aggravated Assault on a Police Officer

Respected Maricopa County Criminal Defense Attorney Aggressively Defending Clients Facing Serious Felony Assault Charges

The United States' justice system is an imperfect one, and certain biases inevitably creep in when they shouldn’t. While this happens in almost every criminal case, nowhere is it more apparent than in those cases involving charges of aggravated assault on a police officer. If you’ve been charged with assaulting a police officer, it may feel as though it will be impossible to get a fair trial. However, at the Law Office of James E. Novak, we consider it a privilege to ensure every one of our clients receives the attention, respect, and zealous defense they need, deserve and are entitled to.

What Is Aggravated Assault on a Police Officer in Arizona?

In Arizona, an assault is defined as intentionally, knowingly or recklessly causing physical injury to another person or placing them in apprehension of imminent physical injury. Based on this definition, there is no requirement that you actually cause injury—or even contact—with another person to commit an assault.

Under A.R.S. § 13-1204, there are several different ways one can commit an aggravated assault, several of which involve police officers. For example, committing an assault against a person you know or have reason to know is a police officer is an aggravated assault. In this way, aggravated assault on a police officer is considered “aggravated” not because of the type of force used or the injuries caused, but solely because the alleged victim was a police officer. It is also considered aggravated assault to assault someone summoned by a police officer, such as an off-duty officer, a civilian, an employee of a business, or anyone else the officer calls to the scene.

It is also considered aggravated assault on a police officer to knowingly take or attempt to exercise control over a police officer’s firearm or any other weapon in the officer’s possession.

Punishments for Aggravated Assault on a Police Officer

In all cases, aggravated assault on a police officer is a felony. However, there are different gradations depending on the underlying facts. For example, attempting to assault a police officer (without causing any injury) is a Class 5 felony, punishable by a presumptive sentence of a year in jail. However, if the officer was seriously injured or a weapon was used, either to assault the officer or in an attempt to assault them, the offense becomes a Class 2 felony, punishable by a presumptive sentence of 5 years in jail. Further, the law provides that the judge cannot sentence anyone found guilty in either of these circumstances to anything less than the presumptive sentence.

If an officer suffered bodily injury, but it was not serious, the offense is graded as a Class 4 felony, punishable by a presumptive sentence of 2.5 years in jail.

Defenses to Charges of Aggravated Assault on a Police Officer

Like all crimes, aggravated assault on a police officer has a number of defenses that can either absolve you entirely of responsibility or mitigate your exposure. However, one of the most obvious defenses is removed by statute. Under A.R.S. 12-1304(D), “it is not a defense to a prosecution for assaulting a peace officer … that the peace officer was not on duty or engaged in the execution of any official duties.” However, this does not impact the requirement that you “knowingly” assaulted a person you had reason to believe was a police officer.

Other defenses to assaulting an officer include:

  • Self-defense,
  • Defense of others,
  • Misidentification, or
  • Mistake.

In those cases alleging that the officer suffered serious injury, it is also possible to challenge the extent of the officer’s injuries, which could reduce the seriousness of the offense from a Class 2 felony to a Class 4 felony.

Were You Arrested in Phoenix for Assaulting a Police Officer?

If you are facing charges related to the aggravated assault of a police officer, reach out to the Law Office of James E. Novak today to schedule a free consultation. Attorney Novak has extensive experience successfully defending the rights of clients facing serious violent crimes. To learn more, and to schedule a free consultation today, call Attorney James Novak at (480) 413-1499. The Law Office of James Novak proudly defends clients in Phoenix, Tempe, Mesa, Chandler Scottsdale, Gilbert and other surrounding cities in Maricopa County.