Dangerous Crimes in Arizona

Atty. Nicholas Alcock - Dangerous Crimes in Arizona


There are several types of crimes in Arizona that are grouped by classification. Some are considered domestic violence offenses or dangerous crimes against children. Some of the most serious offenses in Arizona are called dangerous offenses. If you have been charged with a dangerous offense, you have the fight of your life ahead of you. We can help.

If a prosecutor can charge you with a dangerous crime, they will. Dangerous offenses are codified under Arizona Revised Statutes, 13-105(13). That statute says that a dangerous offense means an offense involving the discharge, use or threatening exhibition of a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument or the intentional or knowing infliction of serious physical injury on another person. A deadly weapon is anything designed for lethal use, including a firearm. A dangerous instrument is anything that under the circumstances in which it is used, attempted to be used or threatened to be used is readily capable of causing death or serious physical injury.

A lot of things can make an otherwise normal offense a dangerous offense. For example, a car can be a dangerous instrument. A baseball could be a dangerous instrument. Even num-chuks.

The State must allege that an offense is dangerous. This is done in the formal charging document called an indictment.

If the State has alleged you committed a dangerous crime, then you are looking at mandatory prison time if you lose at trial. That means the judge cannot give you probation even if he wanted to. Here are some of the most common dangerous offenses in Arizona:

Manslaughter: Manslaughter is recklessly causing the death of another person. That means there was a substantial risk of death and the person disregarded that risk. The most common example of manslaughter is when a drunk driver kills another person. In most cases, the prosecutor will charge manslaughter as a dangerous offense. Manslaughter can be charged as a dangerous offense because a car qualifies as a dangerous instrument under law. (See State v. Orduno, 159 Ariz. 564, 566, 769 P.2d 1010, 1012 (1989)). When charged as a dangerous offense, manslaughter carries a range of 7 to 21 years in prison. Probation is not an option.

Armed Robbery: Armed robbery as a dangerous offense is knowingly or intentionally threatening another person with a deadly weapon to coerce surrender of their property. The most common instances of armed robbery involve gas stations or convenience stores. Other armed robberies include so-called “rips” where one rival gang or drug trafficking organization commits a home invasion and steals drugs or money at gun point. Armed robbery dangerous carries a range of 7-21 years in prison.

Kidnapping: The definition of kidnapping in Arizona surprises a lot of people. Kidnapping does not necessarily mean you grabbed someone, tied them up, and threw them in the back of your car (although that would qualify as kidnapping). Kidnapping is when you knowingly restrain another person with the intent to commit a felony. If a defendant has committed a felony, and in any way inhibited the victim’s movement, the State will probably file kidnapping charges as well. Kidnapping is a class 2 felony. If a weapon was involved (for example, if someone is held at gunpoint), it becomes a dangerous offense with a prison range of 7-21 years in the Department of Corrections.

Aggravated Assault: Aggravated assault is often charged as a dangerous offense as well. It is probably the most common dangerous offense. Aggravated assault has several elements, so let’s break it down.  First, an assault must occur. A person commits assault by:

  1. Intentionally, knowingly or recklessly causing any physical injury to         another person; or
  2. Intentionally placing another person in reasonable apprehension of imminent physical injury; or
  3. Knowingly touching another person with the intent to injure, insult or provoke such person.

Several things can make an assault aggravated. Here are a few of the most common examples of aggravated assault:

  1. If the person causes serious physical injury to another.
  2. If the person uses a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument.
  3. If the person commits the assault by any means of force that causes temporary but substantial disfigurement, temporary but substantial loss or impairment of any body organ or part or a fracture of any body part.
  4. If the person commits the assault while the victim is bound or otherwise physically restrained or while the victim’s capacity to resist is substantially impaired.
  5. If the person commits the assault after entering the private home of another with the intent to commit the assault.
  6. If the person is eighteen years of age or older and commits the assault on a minor under fifteen years of age.

The most common example of aggravated assault dangerous is when a suspect shoots another person. But a person can also be charged with aggravated assault dangerous by simply pointing a gun at someone else. Another example of aggravated assault dangerous is if a defendant hits or even threatens to hit another person with their vehicle. Aggravated assault dangerous is a class 3 felony with a range of 5-15 years in prison.

A person who has a prior dangerous felony on their record is in a tough position. If a person with a dangerous felony prior is charged with another dangerous offense, the range of sentence is astronomical. A person with a dangerous prior who has been charged with armed robbery (dangerous) is looking at 14-28 years in prison. That is a higher sentence than second degree murder. A person with two dangerous priors who has been charged with kidnapping (dangerous) is looking at 21-35 years in prison.

Our firm has significant experience in defending against dangerous offenses. If you’ve been charged with a dangerous offense, give us a call and we’ll figure out the best strategy to fight your case.

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