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Is Fighting a Crime?

With everyone having an opinion about something, it's possible you'll get into a disagreement with someone about the way a matter should be handled. The interaction may first begin as a simple argument, but the talk may become more heated, and emotions may flare as you try to help the other person understand your side. Eventually, the verbal altercation might turn into a physical one, and a fight may ensue.

In Arizona, if you get into a fight with someone else, you may be charged with several different offenses. Thus, a fight is a crime – or rather it can be several crimes, as the conduct is prohibited under various laws.

Criminal Charges Arising from a Fight

The underlying behavior of a fight – from the words to the blows exchanged – may constitute an offense or various offenses.

A few of the charges you can face for engaging in such conduct include, but are not limited to:

  • Threatening or intimidating: Most fights begin with a verbal disagreement about something. During the exchange, you might threaten or intimidate the other person. You might also use words that suggest you will cause physical injury to the other person. Under A.R.S. 13-1202, such conduct is unlawful. The offense is a class 1 misdemeanor. If a judge or jury finds you guilty, the court could sentence you to up to 6 months in jail.
  • Disorderly conduct: This charge most often results from a fight. The law specifically states that people are prohibited from engaging in fighting. It also forbids the use of abusive or offensive language that might cause another person to retaliate. Thus, whether your interaction evolves into a physical altercation or you simply use words to try to get the other person to throw the first punch, you could be charged with disorderly conduct. If you are accused of this offense, to prove guilt, the State must demonstrate that you disturbed the peace of another. As with threatening or intimidating, disorderly conduct is a class 1 misdemeanor.
  • Assault: Another offense you may be charged with for fighting is assault. The offense can be committed in several ways:
  1. Causing physical injury to another;
  2. Making someone fear physical injury is imminent; or
  3. Touching someone to injure or provoke them

One or more of the above may be apparent in your interaction with the person you got in a fight with. The penalties you could face depend on the nature of the incident. Actually injuring someone is a class 1 misdemeanor, punishable by up to 6 months in jail. Making someone fear physical injury is a class 2 misdemeanor, penalized by up to 4 months in jail. And touching another person is a class 3 misdemeanor, which carries a maximum jail term of 30 days.

If you're facing criminal charges in Arizona, contact Oliverson & Huss Law PLLC at (480) 351-2228 today. We'll put our over 40 years of combined experience to work for you.

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