Violent crimes are some of the most heavily prosecuted criminal cases in Arizona. Unfortunately, it is also possible for the wrong person to be convicted and given an overly harsh criminal sentence. Many people just expect that things will work out if they don't think they did anything wrong. However, you shouldn't take any chances when it comes to risking your freedom, your family and your future. Experienced violent crime defense attorneys will fight to keep you out of jail and keep your record clean.

Violent Criminal Offenses

Many acts can be considered violent crimes. These include misdemeanor offenses and felony crimes. Minor offenses may result in probation with no jail sentence.

In the most extreme cases, however, an individual can face the death penalty if convicted of a violent crime. Violent crimes include:

  • Assault
  • Domestic violence
  • Sexual assault
  • Murder
  • Gang crime
  • Weapons offenses
  • Kidnapping

Assault And Battery

Some states have different charges for assault and battery. In Arizona, assault generally includes what would be considered battery in other jurisdictions. Under Arizona Revised Statutes 13-1203, "a person commits assault by intentionally, knowingly or recklessly causing any physical injury to another person; or intentionally placing another person in reasonable apprehension of imminent physical injury; or by knowingly touching another person with the intent to injure, insult or provoke such person."

This means that a simple shove or teasing gesture may be enough to get arrested on assault charges. To be convicted, the assault does not even require the victim to be physically touched. A threatening motion that puts the victim in fear of being injured may be enough to be considered an assault. This type of assault is a misdemeanor and could result in jail time and a criminal record.

Aggravated assault is a more serious offense. Aggravated assault includes assault in which the victim is seriously injured, the defendant uses a dangerous weapon, the assault takes place in someone's home or the victim is a minor under the age of 15. It can also be considered aggravated assault to assault a peace officer, firefighter, teacher, health care practitioner, prosecutor, public defender or code enforcement officer. Aggravated assault can be charged as a felony and can include a prison sentence of up to 15 years.

If charged with assault or aggravated assault, you may have several defenses available. Self-defense or defense of others can be a defense, depending on the situation. Additionally, many allegations of assault include cases of mistaken identity. Witnesses may point to the wrong person, and the police are quick to arrest first and ask questions later.

If you have been charged with assault or aggravated assault, you should talk to an experienced criminal defense attorney who understands the penalties you are facing, will pursue all possible defenses and fight to keep you out of jail.

Domestic Violence

Domestic violence is a serious offense in Arizona, with stiff penalties. A conviction for domestic violence can result in jail time and limitations on where defendants can go and what they can do.

Most domestic violence charges for first-time offenses are treated as misdemeanors. If domestic violence resulted in serious injury or a dangerous weapon was involved, however, it can be treated as a felony offense. A domestic relationship does not involve only couples.

Many relationships fall under the term 'domestic relationship' in domestic violence cases. This includes individuals connected through:

  • Marriage or former marriage
  • Residence in the same household
  • Having a child in common
  • Blood relatives
  • Relatives through marriage
  • Current or previous romantic or sexual relationships

If police officers have probable cause to believe that domestic violence has been committed, they can arrest the person believed to have committed the offense. They can also seize any firearm on the property. The police can also conduct a child welfare check if a minor is present. Certain factors can be considered in sentencing someone for domestic violence, including whether the victim was pregnant.

Self-defense or defense of others can be a defense to domestic violence charges. Sometimes, people fabricate claims of domestic violence. Too many domestic violence cases involve false allegations. When relationships go sour, emotions can run high. Frustrated and angry, some people falsely accuse former partners of abuse, just to keep them away. False allegations of domestic abuse can ruin lives. If you have been charged with domestic violence, you should talk to an experienced criminal defense attorney who understands the penalties involved and will fight to keep you out of jail.

Sexual Assault

Sexual assault can be considered a violent crime and has serious, lifelong consequences if the defendant is classified as a sex offender. Any sexual intercourse or oral sexual contact without consent is considered sexual assault. However, sexual assault that involves the infliction of serious physical injury is a more serious charge. A conviction for sexual assault involving injury can result in life imprisonment. Sexual assault on a minor or subsequent sexual assault convictions can result in increased penalties.

In some cases, sexual assault can result in sex offender status for the defendant. After a defendant serves his or her prison sentence, he or she may be required to register as a sex offender for life. This includes reporting to the local sheriff on a regular basis and informing the state any time the offender moves or leave the state. Offenders may be restricted on where they can live and what kinds of jobs they can take. They may also have their pictures, addresses, descriptions and criminal offenses listed on the publicly searchable sex offender registry website.


Murder and manslaughter are considered among the most serious violent criminal offenses. Even if an individual did not mean to kill another person, he or she may be charged with murder or manslaughter. In Arizona, cases involving the death of another are generally charged as manslaughter or murder.

Under Arizona Revised Statutes 13-1103, "a person commits manslaughter by recklessly causing the death of another person." A conviction for manslaughter can result in a prison sentence between seven and 21 years. However, the sentence can be increased if the individual has a criminal record.

Second-degree murder can involve a sudden quarrel or occur in the heat of passion or following provocation by the victim. Recklessly causing the death of an unborn child by any physical injury to the mother is also classified as manslaughter. "Intentionally providing the physical means that another person uses to commit suicide, with the knowledge that the person intends to commit suicide" can also be classified as manslaughter.


Murder is a serious violent criminal charge in Arizona. Murder carries a possible penalty of life in prison without parole or the death penalty. Murder is charged as murder in the first degree or murder in the second degree. The specific charge depends on the circumstances surrounding the death.

Under Arizona Revised Statutes 13-1104, "a person commits second degree murder if, without premeditation, the person intentionally causes the death of another person, including an unborn child." Second-degree murder also includes doing something that the defendant knows will cause death or serious physical injury, which causes the death of another person.

So-called "depraved heart" murder can also be charged as murder in the second degree. Under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to human life, when a person "recklessly engages in conduct that creates a grave risk of death and thereby causes the death of another person," the defendant may be charged with second-degree murder.

First-degree murder is a capital offense in Arizona. This means it is punishable by the death penalty. Under Arizona Revised Statutes 13-1105, "a person commits first degree murder if, "intending or knowing that the person's conduct will cause death, the person causes the death of another person, including an unborn child, with premeditation."

When certain felony offenses result in the death of another, the death can lead to a first-degree murder charge. This includes sexual assault, child molestation, terrorism, drive-by shootings, kidnapping, burglary, arson, robbery, child abuse and even certain drug offenses.

As with all violent criminal charges, the defendant may have several legal defenses available. Self-defense or defense of others can be a defense to murder or manslaughter. Other defenses may also be available, depending on the specific facts and circumstances of your case. If you have been charged with murder or manslaughter, you should talk to an experienced criminal defense attorney who will pursue all possible defenses and fight to keep you out of jail.

Tucson Criminal Defense Attorneys

At West, Longenbaugh and Zickerman P.L.L.C., our criminal defense attorneys are here to help individuals and families throughout Tucson, Arizona. If you or a loved one has been charged with a violent crime, we will fight for you, to keep you out of jail and keep your record clean. We will advise you of all your options to get your charges reduced or dismissed entirely. Our lawyers are committed to addressing the individual needs of each of our clients and can assist you with all aspects of your criminal defense.

Call us at 520-518-3781 or contact us online.