State v. Mathews

In State v. Mathews, 130 Ariz. 46, 47, 633 P.2d 1039, 1040 (App. 1981), the State charged Mathews with aggravated assault for throwing urine from a container onto a peace officer. After he pled guilty pursuant to a plea agreement, he appealed, contending no factual basis existed for his plea. Id. at 47-48, 633 P.2d at 1040-41. Specifically, he argued that "since he did not personally strike the officer, no assault occurred." Id. at 49, 633 P.2d at 1042. The court rejected Mathews' contention, stating that "touching" pursuant to A.R.S. 13-1203(A)(3) does not require person-to-person contact. Mathews, 130 Ariz. at 49, 653 P.2d at 1042. In reaching this decision, we reasoned that the former offense of battery, now incorporated in the offense of assault, included "spitting in the face" as an example of how a battery "could be committed by 'any means capable of inflicting the slightest injury.'" Id. (quoting A.R.S. 13-242 (repealed 1978)). Additionally, the Court noted that under the common law, "a battery is an application of force to the person of another 'by the aggressor himself, or by some substance which he puts in motion.'" Mathews, 130 Ariz. at 49, 653 P.2d at 1042 (quoting M. Perkins and Ronald M. Boyce, Criminal Law at 108 (2nd Ed., 1969)). As examples from the common law showing that person-to-person contact is unnecessary to commit battery, we cited administering poison, applying caustic chemicals, and communicating a disease. Id. Against this backdrop, the Court concluded that throwing urine onto another is a "touching" within the meaning of 13-1203(A)(3). Mathews, 130 Ariz. at 49, 653 P.2d at 1042.