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City of Mesa AZ Ranks as 3rd Safest City in the USA for Violent Offenses and Property Crimes

Crime Scene

Putting Statistics into Perspective; Arizona Felony Assault laws; Overview of City, State and Country-wide violent crime trends

On New Year’s Day two “Good Samaritans” stopped their vehicle in Arizona to help a victim being assaulted, after they reported it to the police. The Good Samaritan told the dispatcher that help could not wait. He jumped out of his vehicle to aid the victim of the assault. As soon as he did, the aggressor attacked him as well. The passenger of the Good Samaritan’s vehicle also got out. But during the attack, the assailant got behind the wheel of the Good Samaritan’s car; and used the vehicle as a deadly weapon to hit all three people. The initial victim being assaulted died at the scene. Both of the Good Samaritans were rushed to the hospital. One remains in critical condition with life threatening injuries.

I read of the events surrounding this tragic and disturbing incident, moments before I heard the good news about violent crimes statistics being down in Mesa AZ. I was still jarred by the first events, while I read the Mesa AZ media release. Suddenly I felt compelled to share it as illustration that even in light of lower crime rates, violence continues to exist and should “remain cause for vigilance” no matter where we live.

In this discussion we’ll cover the following topics:

  • City of Mesa AZ’s recent announcement about decrease in violent crimes;
  • Factors credited to the historic lows in violent crimes;
  • Arizona Department of Public Safety (DPS) city and state violent crime statistics;
  • FBI Uniform Crime Results (UCR) Overview of Violent Crimes in the USA;
  • Arizona Aggravated Assault Laws, and Penalties

Factors credited to historic lows in crime rates in Mesa AZ

The City of Mesa AZ ranked the third lowest in violent offenses and property crimes in 2012 according to recent statistics released by the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) of populated with 400,000 or more.

The City of Mesa hit the lowest violent crime rates they have seen in 50 years. Mesa Police attribute this largely to increased police efforts, technology, and active community partnerships. .

Violent Crimes Remain Cause for Vigilance in Arizona

While this announcement should be perceived as a good thing, at the same time, improved safety statistics, can often leave us with a false sense of security. Common sense tells us we still lock our doors, close our windows, and remain attentive to our surroundings as we return to our vehicles in a dark parking lot. No one is immune to being a victim of violent crime, matter where they may be. Prudence tells us to remain aware of their surroundings, and take safety and security measures to protect themselves, their loved ones and property.

Looking back on the Arizona Department of Public Safety (DPS) Statistics, the Mesa Police Department reported 1,804 violent crimes in 2012; while the 2013 statistics are apparently still being gathered.

The State of Arizona reported a total of 25,902 crimes statewide with 10.3 percent of them being categorized as violent crimes. Of the violent crimes Aggravated Assault crimes accounted for the largest number of all violent crimes with 16,579 incidents, representing 64 percent of all violent crimes. Statewide, this is just one percent higher than the national average of 65 percent.

FBI Uniform Crime Results Overview of Violent Crimes in the USA

The FBI Uniform Crime Report (UCR) classifies violent crimes as aggravated assault, sexual assault, murder, and robbery. Here some additional statistics revealed in the 2012 FBI UCR statistics:

  • Over 1.2 million violent crimes occurred in the USA representing a 0.7 percent increase over the prior year;
  • A review of the prior five year trend shows an actual decrease of 13 percent in violent crimes;
  • A total of 760, 739 Aggravated Assaults were reported, constituting 63 percent of all violent crimes in the USA;
  • Offenses described as aggravated assaults include unlawful attacks on a person with the intentional purpose of inflicting severe bodily injury upon them.
  • Guns were used in 69 percent of the homicides; 41 percent of robberies; and 22 percent of aggravated assaults.

Violent Crime and Property Crime Laws in Arizona

Under Arizona Criminal Code A.R.S. 13-706 “Violent” felony crimes are “serious crimes”

against victims. These include but are not limited to murder, sexual assault, dangerous crimes against children, armed robbery, and aggravated assault involving a deadly weapon, drive-by shootings, first degree burglary, and other serious offenses.

Under Arizona Criminal Code A.R.S. 13- 105 Definitions, “Crimes” are defined as any Misdemeanor or Felony involving a victim’s Personal Property. “Persona Property” is defined as meaning anything of value owned by a person. This includes tangible or intangible property. It includes offenses such as theft of property including auto theft, and non-violent burglary. These are by nature more common in most cities in Arizona.

Aggravated Assault Laws in Arizona

Assaults that are not considered to have “Aggravated” circumstances are those described under A.R.S 13-1203 and are classified as Misdemeanors. They are loosely described as offenses that knowingly, intentionally or recklessly cause physical injury to another person; or cause a victim to be provoked or compelled to have a reasonable apprehension of physical injury;

Although classified as Misdemeanors assault charges are very serious and can expose a suspect to severe penalties including jail terms, victim restitution, anger management counseling, counseling, probation, fines, fees and a criminal record.

An Aggravated Assault is a Felony. It is an Assault Charge that has been raised to the level of a felony due to “aggravated factors” as described in the term itself. These are some of the most serious criminal charges a person can face, and offense is considered a violent crime. A person may face these charges under Arizona Criminal Code A.R.S. 13-1204. There are a number of circumstances that are named as aggravated factors under the code. Just a few include:

  • Causing serious physical injury to the victim;
  • Assault that causes substantial disfigurement, even if temporary;
  • Assault that results in impairment to bodily organ or fracture of bones;
  • Use of a lethal weapon or deadly instrument in the assault;
  • Assault on a police officer, peace officers or other described individuals;
  • Assault by person 18 or over against a person 15 years of age or under;
  • Assault while a person is restrained, bound, or physically impaired against resisting an attack.

The Arizona law is comprehensive and covers these and additional factors to a great degree.

Felony Assaults are considered serious and violent crimes against victims. They may be charged as Class 5, Class 3 or Class 2 felonies depending on the nature of the charges. They may also be combined with the most serious of charges Class 1, reserved for homicide.

If convicted of an Aggravated Assault a person may face long term or life prisons sentences. In some cases, depending on the circumstances, they may not be eligible for parole until a term of 25 to 5 years has been completed. Other penalties include exorbitant fines which range up to $150,000.00 per charge or 1 million dollars per charge for enterprises; victim restitution; prison and other assessment fees; loss of civil rights including right to possess firearms, and right to vote. A felon criminal record follows a person for many years and often even after released from prison, impacts the person’s ability to obtain a job, credit, and adversely impacts many aspects of their lives, making the transition to back into society extremely difficult.

Being charged with a felony assault puts a person’s future at great risk. The laws can be complex and the penalties extremely harsh. It’s too important of a matter to go unrepresented by an experienced and highly qualified criminal defense attorney. No matter how grim the situation may appear, or how serious the charges, the constitution affords a suspect with the right to retain proper legal representation to defend their charges, protect their rights, and tell their side of the story through the criminal justice process. If you have active felony charges in Mesa AZ, or any Phoenix East Valley Cities, contact James Novak, DUI and Criminal Defense Attorney to discuss your matter and options for defense. He will provide you with a free consultation regarding your matter, and options for defense.

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