Maricopa County

Maricopa County is the most heavily populated county in Arizona, and is located in the southern part of the state. It is one of the biggest counties in the United States in term of size, with its land area being greater than that of seven states. Four of its municipalities were named in a Forbes Magazine list of the 10 fastest-growing cities in the nation. In 2000, there were 2,072,149 people in the county. The county's crime rate overall is much lower than America's average crime rate. However, the rate of hate crimes in Maricopa County is higher than both America and Arizona's rate of hate crimes. In fact, the county seat of Phoenix consistently reports the third-greatest number of hate crimes in the country, behind New York and Los Angeles. If you have been accused of a crime with aggravating factors in Arizona, the experienced Maricopa County criminal defense attorney James Novak may be able to help.

Sentencing for Hate Crimes in Arizona

Every crime under Arizona law has an assigned sentencing range, from a minimum possible term (also known as a “mitigated term”) to the highest possible term (also known as an “aggravated term”). Where there are no mitigating or aggravating factors involved, a judge is required to impose what is called a "presumptive sentence." This is usually a term that lies midway between the poles of the mitigated and aggravated terms.

Some common "hate crimes" include physical attacks, property destruction, cross burning, arson or firebombing, and vandalism using hate symbols like swastikas. Unlike some other states that have separate hate crime statutes, Arizona prosecutors do not usually charge crimes motivated by bias against a victim separately from crimes not motivated by such bias. Rather, the prosecution uses evidence that a defendant committed a crime because of a victim's race, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, or disability in order to argue for an aggravated sentence under Arizona Revised Statute (A.R.S.) section 13-701(D)(15).

Sometimes, a defendant misperceives certain characteristics of a victim and commits an act of violence based on that misperception. For example, an aggravating factor may be found where someone who attacks a person he believes is a Native America based on his clothes, even if the victim is not actually Native American. A judge who finds bias was present towards the victim may impose a sentence greater than the presumptive sentence, up to the aggravated term.

Assault in Arizona

Assault in Arizona can be either a misdemeanor or a felony. Misdemeanor assault occurs where someone intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly hurts somebody physically, or intentionally places somebody in reasonable apprehension of being physically hurt, or knowingly touches somebody intending to injure, insult, or provoke that person. Under A.R.S. section 13-1204, an adult may be charged with aggravated assault for attacking a minor 15 years old or younger, for using a deadly weapon, for causing serious physical injury or for binding or restraining a victim, or for causing disfigurement, impairment of a bodily organ, or fracturing a body part of the victim. A longer prison sentence may be imposed if the prosecutor presents evidence of bias that would suggest the assault was a hate crime.

Experience You Can Trust

In cases where aggravating factors are alleged, whether the charge is assault or another offense, it is crucial to have a knowledgeable Maricopa County criminal defense lawyer on your side. Contact attorney James Novak at (480) 413-1499 or via our online form to set up your free consultation today.