For the baby-boomers among us, corporal punishment, whether in the home or the school, was both a common and accepted form of punishment decades ago. Things have changed, particularly with respect to the legal ramifications of striking children.
According to police reports, a Flagstaff teacher was allegedly observed slapping a kindergarten student. The witness, another teacher at the elementary school, says that the student had been observed shortly before the incident exhibiting signs of a tantrum, including stomping his feet. The witness says that she observed the slapping incident shortly thereafter, and the suspect is now charged with aggravated assault. There is nothing in the report to suggest that the child suffered any physical injury.
We bring this up because many of our readers will likely be surprised that the administration of relatively minor physical punishment could lead to such a charge. Most people, in that regard, assume that aggravated assault is an offense limited to cases where there are serious injuries.
A.R.S. 13-1204 sets forth the definition of aggravated assault. In addition to assaults that cause serious physical injury, there are numerous situations that can also support the aggravated assault charge:
- Use of a deadly weapon.
- Causing temporary disfigurement or impairment.
- Assault while the victim is bound or restrained.
- Assault in a private home, where the intent to assault existed at the time of entry.
- Violation of a protective order.
- Assault on a peace officer, firefighter, teacher, etc.
- Assault by an adult (18 years or older) on a minor under the age of 15.
While simple assault is a misdemeanor, aggravated assault is a felony. In the case of an assault on a minor who is less than 15 years old, it is a class 6 felony. Moreover, if there are serious injuries or if it involves the use of a weapon, for example, the classification and the potential penalties will increase.
There are many offenses in Arizona which are ordinarily classified as misdemeanors; when they are committed against children, however, the consequences increase dramatically.
Law Offices of David A. Black
40 North Central Avenue #1400
Phoenix, AZ 85004