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03 Oct 23

Phoenix Laws on Violent Threats, Intimidation and Harassment

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Last Updated on: 5th October 2023, 07:53 am

Phoenix Laws on Violent Threats, Intimidation and Harassment

Making threats, intimidating, or harassing someone is against the law in Phoenix, Arizona. There are a few different laws that cover this type of behavior. Understanding what the law says can help people avoid getting in trouble. It can also help someone who has been threatened or harassed know their rights and what to do.

Threatening or Intimidating

The main law about threats and intimidation is Arizona Revised Statutes (ARS) 13-1202. This law says it’s illegal to threaten or intimidate someone to:

  • Cause physical injury to another person
  • Cause damage to property
  • Cause a public inconvenience
  • Cause the evacuation of a building or place of assembly
  • Cause physical injury or property damage to promote criminal gang activity

Threatening or intimidating is usually a class 1 misdemeanor. That means it’s punishable by up to 6 months in jail. But it becomes a class 6 felony if:

  • The threat was in retaliation for reporting a crime
  • The person making the threat is in a criminal gang

A felony charge can mean serious penalties – over 1 year in prison. The law focuses on if the person made a real threat that would scare a reasonable person. They don’t need to actually intend to do what they threatened[5].

For example, Joe and Kate had a bad breakup. Joe tells Kate “I’m going to slash your tires and smash your windows if you don’t get back together with me!” Joe made a threat that would scare a reasonable person. He can be charged with threatening/intimidating, even if he didn’t really plan to damage Kate’s car.

Assault

Another law called ARS 13-1203 covers assault. Assault is when someone intentionally puts another person in fear of immediate physical injury. This includes threats of violence that make the victim afraid they are about to be hurt right away. Assault can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony[1].

Assault charges often come up in domestic violence cases. For example, if a husband threatens to punch his wife in the face during an argument, she may be afraid he is about to hit her. That could be assault as well as domestic violence.

Harassment

ARS 13-2921 deals with harassment. This law makes it illegal to repeatedly contact or follow someone in order to harass, annoy, or alarm them. The harasser has to be acting with intent to harass. Harassment can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony[6].

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For example, harassment charges could apply if someone repeatedly texts or calls their ex-partner after being told to stop. Or if someone follows their co-worker home every night to scare them. There needs to be a pattern of harassing behavior, not just a one-time incident.

Stalking

Stalking is covered by ARS 13-2923. Stalking is when someone knowingly engages in a course of conduct directed at a specific person. And that conduct causes the victim to fear for their safety or the safety of their family. It also has to cause emotional distress to the victim. Stalking is a felony charge[6].

For example, stalking could be charged if someone repeatedly shows up at their ex’s house uninvited. Or if they send gifts and letters declaring their undying love after being told to stop. The victim has to experience fear and distress from the harasser’s pattern of conduct.

Defenses

There are some possible defenses if you are charged with threatening, intimidating, assaulting, harassing, or stalking someone. A skilled criminal defense lawyer can argue:

  • You didn’t actually make a threat or intend to harass the alleged victim – there was just a misunderstanding or miscommunication
  • The alleged victim is exaggerating or making up the story out of bias against you
  • Your words or conduct were offensive but didn’t rise to the level of a criminal threat or harassment under the law
  • You were lawfully defending yourself or someone else from harm
  • Your speech was protected free speech under the First Amendment, not a true threat

An experienced lawyer will gather evidence and witness statements to show your side of the story. They will negotiate firmly with the prosecutor. Often charges can be reduced or dismissed when your lawyer exposes weaknesses in the other side’s case.

Penalties

Penalties if convicted of threatening, intimidating, assault, harassment, or stalking depend on how the crime is charged. Possible sentences can include:

  • Misdemeanor – Up to 6 months in jail
  • Low level felony – 1 to 3 years in prison
  • High level felony – Up to 12.5 years in prison

Fines up to $150,000 are also possible. Having a criminal record can negatively impact your job, housing, reputation, and finances. It pays to fight the charges with an aggressive defense.

Get Legal Help

Being accused of threatening, intimidating or harassing someone can have severe consequences. An experienced Arizona criminal defense attorney can help. They will conduct an independent investigation of what happened. Often they can get charges reduced or dismissed. For help defending your rights, contact a lawyer today.

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