In Arizona, aggravated assault is defined according to A.R.S. §13-1204 occurs when a person commits an act of assault according to A.R.S. §13-1203 under circumstances that have been deemed by the legislature to require more severe punishments than are an option under the original statute for assault.
An assault charge may be escalated to an “aggravated” charge under the following circumstances:
- The defendant caused substantial disfigurement or a serious injury to another person.
- A deadly weapon or instrument with the potential for danger was intentionally used to cause a person to fear imminent serious injury or death.
For example, if a person causes an accident that results in serious injury to another person and they were driving while under the influence, then this could be charged as vehicular aggravated assault due to the car being a dangerous instrument. This charge is often used in the event of ordinary assault on a police officer or other public servant (due to their status) and will be considered a felony. An assault may also be considered to be aggravated when if the defendant is over 18 years of age and commits simple assault on a minor who is under 15 years of age.
Potential Punishment for Aggravated Assault in Arizona
The potential penalties for this charge may vary widely according to the circumstances surrounding the assault and the people involved due to the length and details included within the statute. While some of the potential penalties are included here, it is best to speak with a criminal defense lawyer regarding the specifics of your case to determine how the statute may be applied.
- If a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument was used, then it may be considered a class five felony which carries a penalty ranging from five (5) years minimum to fifteen (15) years maximum incarceration for a first-offense.
- If a weapon or instrument was not used and serious injury or disfigurement occurred, then it may be considered a class three, or non-dangerous, felony. This classification carries a penalty ranging from zero days to eight and three-quarter year incarceration for a first-offense.
- If the assault did not cause serious injury to the victim but did result in severe and temporary disfigurement, then it may be considered as a class four felony which carries a potential penalty ranging from probation to three and one-quarter year incarceration for a first-offense.
- If the assault was committed on a public servant and did not result in serious injury, then this may be considered as a class six felony with a potential penalty of up to two years in prison custody.
For each of these charges, the potential punishments escalate for those with one or more allegeable historical prior convictions and could be punished by up to 35 years of incarceration, depending upon the circumstances applied to the case.
An act of assault on a minor under the age of 15 will also be classified as a class two Dangerous Crime Against a Child (DCAC) which allows for lengthier prison times.
Possible Defenses for Aggravated Assault
Self-defense is the most common strategy used against these types of charges. Often, a victim will be forced by the situation to be the first to take physical action in an effort to protect themselves from injury. Alternatively, a case of domestic violence may have occurred and a man defended himself against a female attacker. Often, it will be the male who is charged with the crime due to the female being generally regarded as a victim. If a public servant, such as a police officer, is involved then it is also possible to prove that the defendant was unaware of the other person’s status.
To defend an assault that has been elevated to “aggravated”, it is important to gather evidence that includes eye-witness testimony, physical and video evidence along with interviews with those who can serve as a character reference. For this reason, it is important to begin working quickly on the case so that all evidence can be gathered before it goes to court. In cases with a recalcitrant victim, the charges can sometimes be dropped if they do not want to go ahead with the proceedings.
If you are facing aggravated assault charges, then it is important to hire a criminal defense lawyer that is experienced with handling the details regarding this statute. At the Law Offices of David Michael Cantor, our team includes attorneys who have worked on the prosecution-side of the law and know how to defend these cases from every angle.
For a free initial consultation, you can fill out our online form here or call us 24 hours a day at 602-307-0808 today.