Things can happen in the heat of the moment that you did not intend. Assaulting a police officer is rarely an intentional attempt to harm the officer, but is often just a response to fear.
Unfortunately, whenever a member of a law enforcement agency suffers harm from an interaction with a member of the public, the person is likely to be charged with assaulting an officer. When you face this charge, you need a strong assault defense attorney standing by your side. Contact our Tolleson assault on an officer lawyer for help.
An assault is a knowing, intentional, or reckless act that causes an alleged victim to have a reasonable fear of being harmed. Making intentional, unwanted physical contact with someone is also an assault.
Arizona Revised Statutes § 13-1204(8) describes the crime of assaulting an officer. The alleged assault victim’s identity as a law enforcement officer makes the crime aggravated assault, a felony. It is only an aggravated assault if the accused knew or should have known the alleged victim was a law enforcement officer, but it is not a defense that the officer was not on duty at the time the incident occurred.
The law also makes it a felony to take or attempt to take an officer’s firearm or any other weapon the officer is attempting to use. A law enforcement officer includes anyone employed in a correctional facility, county or city jail, or juvenile detention facility.
The severity of an aggravated assault charge depends on the surrounding circumstances, but the charge will always be more severe if the target of the alleged assault is a law enforcement officer.
Some charges involving an assault against an officer also carry harsher penalties than they would if the alleged victim were not a police officer. For example, a judge must add two years to the sentence of anyone convicted of lying in wait to ambush an officer. Arizona’s sentencing guidelines are complex, but a Tolleson attorney could explain the potential sentence in a specific case.
Taking any implement the officer could use to restrain someone, not including handcuffs, is a Class 6 felony if the officer did not suffer an injury. The potential prison sentence for a first offender upon conviction ranges from three months to two years, with a presumptive sentence of one year. An offender with one prior conviction faces a sentencing range of nine months to two years and nine months. The range is two years and three months to five years and nine months for an offender with two or more prior convictions.
Taking or attempting to take a weapon that is not a firearm from an officer is a Class 5 felony, if the officer was not hurt in the attempt. The sentence for a first offender ranges from six months to two and a half years. With one prior conviction, the range is one year to three years and nine months; an offender with multiple previous convictions faces prison for three years to seven and a half years.
An assault that results in any injury to the officer is a Class 4 felony. A minor injury could be a scratch, cut, or bruise that is not disfiguring. A first offender faces prison time ranging from one year to three years and nine months, and one prior conviction increases the potential sentence to between two years and three months to seven and a half years. With two or more prior convictions, the potential sentencing range is from six to 15 years in prison.
If the assault injured an officer and their injuries included a fracture, disfigurement, or a temporary impairment of any bodily function, the crime is a Class 3 felony, as is taking a handgun, taser, or handcuffs from an officer.
The prison sentence for a first offender is between two years and eight years, nine months. With one prior conviction, the potential sentence increases to between three years and three months up to 16 years and three months. Someone with multiple prior offenses faces from seven and a half to 25 years in prison.
Assaulting an officer using a weapon or dangerous instrument is a Class 2 felony. It is also a Class 2 felony if the officer suffered a serious injury in the incident, even if the accused had no weapon. Arizona law considers these assaults dangerous felonies, subject to harsher sentencing.
The presumptive sentence for a first offender convicted of a Class 2 dangerous felony is ten years, six months in prison. The presumptive sentences increase to 15 years, nine months if the offender has one previous conviction and 28 years if the offender has multiple prior convictions. An offender must serve at least the presumptive sentence for this crime.
When you are charged with assaulting an officer, it is natural to feel the odds are stacked against you. Working with a skilled and experienced criminal defense attorney is essential to ensure the criminal justice system treats you fairly.