Simple Assault Charge in Arizona: Defense Strategies

simple assault charges in arizona

In Arizona, a simple assault, as defined under Arizona Revised Statute § 13-1203, occurs when a person knowingly causes physical injury to another, places someone in reasonable fear of imminent physical injury, or touches another with the intent to provoke or insult.


This charge, though less severe than aggravated assault, can still lead to significant legal consequences. With the prevalence of simple assault cases, it's important for those accused to understand their legal position and options.


With their expertise in criminal defense, Kolsrud Law Offices offers legal assistance to those facing assault charges in Arizona. 

intentional assault against someone

What are Misdemeanor Assault Charges

In Arizona, the term "misdemeanor assault" is often used interchangeably with "simple assault." These charges are less severe than felony assault but still carry significant legal consequences.


Misdemeanor assault in Arizona is categorized into three classes based on the severity of the offense: Class 1, Class 2, and Class 3. Each class is governed by specific legal statutes and includes distinct behaviors constituting the charge.


Class 1 Misdemeanor 

  • Defined under Arizona Revised Statute § 13-1203(A)(1).
  • Example: Intentionally inflicting physical injury on another person, such as punching or slapping.
  • Legal Statute: This is considered the most serious misdemeanor assault, involving intentional harm or injury.


Class 2 Misdemeanor 

  • Governed by Arizona Revised Statute § 13-1203(A)(2).
  • Example: Recklessly causing physical injury, like pushing someone without intending to cause harm but resulting in injury nonetheless.
  • Legal Statute: This class focuses on reckless behaviors that lead to injury, where the harm was not necessarily intended.


Class 3 Misdemeanor 

  • Under Arizona Revised Statute § 13-1203(A)(3).
  • Example: Knowingly touching someone with the intent to insult or provoke, such as a shove during an argument without causing physical injury.
  • Legal Statute: This is the least severe class, involving actions that are offensive or provocative but may not cause physical harm.

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The Difference Between Assault and Battery in Arizona

In Arizona, the legal terms "assault" and "battery" are often used interchangeably but have different meanings.


  • Assault: Under Arizona law, assault is defined as an intentional act or threat that places another person in reasonable fear of imminent physical harm. This can include actions that do not involve physical contact, such as threats or actions that cause someone to fear for their safety. Assault is more about the threat or attempt to cause harm.
  • Battery: On the other hand, battery involves actual physical contact or harm caused to another person without their consent. This includes any unlawful touching, hitting, or physical injury inflicted on another person. Battery is specifically about the physical impact or harm done to someone. 

While some jurisdictions distinguish these two offenses with separate charges, Arizona law often combines them under the single category of assault.


This means that in Arizona, the legal charge of assault may encompass actions that would be considered both assault and battery in other jurisdictions.

aggravated assault with a deadly weapon

How Does Simple Assault Differ from Aggravated Assault in Arizona

In Arizona, the differentiation between simple assault and aggravated assault is important in understanding the severity and legal implications of an assault charge.


Simple assault can be classified as a Class 1, Class 2, or Class 3 misdemeanor, while aggravated assault is a more serious felony charge.


Simple Assault (Misdemeanor)

  • Class 1 Misdemeanor: Involves causing physical injury or placing another person in fear of imminent physical harm. Example: A fistfight leading to minor bruises.
  • Class 2 Misdemeanor: Includes reckless behavior causing injury. Example: Throwing an object during an argument that unintentionally hits and injures someone.
  • Class 3 Misdemeanor: Involves knowingly touching another person with the intent to provoke or insult. Example: Pushing someone during a heated verbal exchange without causing injury.


Aggravated Assault (Felony)

  • Aggravated Assault, under Arizona Revised Statute § 13-1204, involves more severe or dangerous behavior.
  • It includes assaults resulting in serious physical injury, use of a deadly weapon, or assaults against certain victims like police officers.
  • Serious Physical Injury: This refers to injuries that create a substantial risk of death, serious and protracted disfigurement, loss or impairment of body parts or organs. Examples include gunshot wounds, stab wounds, or injuries leading to prolonged hospitalization.


Distinction Between Simple Assault and Aggravated Assault

  • The distinction between a misdemeanor assault (simple assault) and a felony assault (aggravated assault) primarily lies in the severity of the injury, the use of weapons, and specific victim circumstances.
  • While simple assaults generally involve less serious injuries or threats, aggravated assaults are characterized by factors like serious physical injury or the employment of dangerous weapons.
  • The legal repercussions differ significantly; misdemeanor charges typically result in shorter jail terms and fines, whereas felony charges can lead to substantial prison time and more severe penalties.

Penalties for Simple Assault in Arizona

In Arizona, the penalties for simple assault, categorized as misdemeanors, vary based on the classification of the charge:


  • Class 1 Misdemeanor Assault: This is the most serious misdemeanor assault charge. It can result in up to six months in jail, a fine of up to $2,500, and probation for up to three years.
  • Class 2 Misdemeanor Assault: A conviction can lead to up to four months in jail, a maximum fine of $750, and probation for up to two years.
  • Class 3 Misdemeanor Assault: The least severe among misdemeanor assaults, it carries penalties including up to 30 days in jail, a maximum fine of $500, and probation for up to one year​​.
criminal defense attorney

Defenses for Simple Assault Charges

At Kolsrud Law Offices, we understand the complexities involved in defending against simple assault charges in Arizona. 


Here are some defense strategies that our experienced attorneys often consider:

  • Self-Defense or Defense of Others

    • This involves asserting that the actions were necessary to protect oneself or someone else from immediate harm. The defense must show that the threat was perceived as real and the response was proportionate to that threat.

  • Lack of Intent

    • Especially relevant in Class 1 and Class 3 misdemeanor assault charges, this defense aims to demonstrate the absence of intent to harm, threaten, or provoke.

  • Accidental Harm

    • If the incident was an accident and not a result of intentional or reckless behavior, this defense might be applicable, particularly in cases involving recklessness.

  • Consent

    • In scenarios like sporting events, if the alleged victim consented to the conduct, it might negate the assault charges.

  • False Accusations or Mistaken Identity

    •  We challenge the accuser's credibility or identification accuracy if evidence suggests a mistaken identity or false accusation.

  • Insufficient Evidence

    • Our attorneys analyze the prosecution's case for weaknesses or inconsistencies to argue that they haven’t met the burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt.


  • Alibi Defense

    • Providing solid evidence that the defendant was elsewhere when the alleged assault occurred.

At Kolsrud Law Offices, we prioritize a thorough investigation and preparation to develop a defense strategy for our clients.


Our goal is to ensure the best possible outcome by leveraging our legal expertise and understanding of Arizona's assault laws.

How a Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help

Criminal defense attorneys offer expert legal guidance from knowledge of the state's legal system and criminal law.


An attorney's role includes thoroughly analyzing the case, crafting a strategic defense, and offering personalized advice. They represent their client in court, effectively arguing their defense and protecting their interests. Beyond court representation, attorneys negotiate with prosecutors, often working towards reducing charges or penalties.


A criminal defense attorney's expertise and personalized approach, such as those at Kolsrud Law Offices, are key to achieving favorable outcomes in simple assault cases.


For legal assistance or to schedule a free initial consultation with Kolsrud Law Offices, you can contact them via phone or email. Reach out to them at (480) 680-9769 or send an email to

An award-winning criminal defense attorney Since 2006

Why Choose Josh Kolsrud

With over 100 trials to his name, and years of experience as a state and federal prosecutor, Josh understands the law, the legal process, and your rights. Josh is also committed to representing every client with utmost integrity and dedication



Josh has prosecuted major crimes on the state and federal level, led a successful anti-human sex trafficking operation that saved lives, and argued before countless juries and justices for his clients



Josh is an expert in both Arizona and federal criminal law, and is ready to put that expertise to work for you.



As a prosecutor, Josh saw far too many defendants lose their livelihood due to poor representation. Josh will always give every client his complete attention and effort

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