Aggravated assault is one of the most common charges in the state of Arizona. Phoenix Criminal Attorney is a law firm that specializes in criminal law and, has qualified and experienced attorneys who can easily defend you against charges of aggravated assault. Phoenix Criminal Attorney is situated in the state of Arizona and mainly services clients who live within the Phoenix area.
What is Aggravated Assault According to Arizona Law?
According to Arizona law, assault is inflicting grievous bodily harm to an individual or, making that individual to fear grievous physical harm. The crime of aggravated assault is committed when an act of assault is done in a more serious way such as the use of an armed weapon; or when the victim has suffered disfigurement and grievous bodily injuries.
For instance; Philip and Jane are cohabiting. During a disagreement, Philip tries to kick Jane in the back; but Jane, being swift, avoids the kick. In such a situation, Philip’s act may be classified as assault. However, if in a subsequent quarrel; Philip throws a stone towards Jane and breaks her jaw - Philip would have committed an act of aggravated assault because he used a dangerous object and caused substantial, temporary disfigurement to Jane.
Aggravated assault is also fondly referred to as felony assault; due to the magnitude of the act of assault committed on a person. An aggravated assault charge is taken very seriously in Arizona because it is a felony. As outlined by ARS 13-1204, a person shall be convicted of aggravated assault or felony assault if that person;
- Has caused grievous physical injuries which resulted in a loss, fractures, impairment and, substantial disfigurement of any person’s body part or used a deadly weapon or a dangerous object to assault another person
- Has assaulted another person whose right to liberty and movement was restrained and, that person was unable to resist being assaulted
- Has entered another person's private residence intending to commit assault and, has committed assault as per his or her intention
- Is at least 18 years of age, and has committed assault on a person who is below 15 years old
- Has gained control or has attempted to control a law enforcement officer’s weapon or firearm or has committed the crime of assault against a law enforcement officer, an emergency treatment paramedic, a school employee, a teacher, a prosecutor, a public defender or, a certified medical professional.
As illustrated by ARS 13-1204, the prosecution must be able to prove that you had an intent to commit the enlisted acts of aggravated assault. For you to be punished of aggravated assault, you must have committed the enlisted acts willingly and intentionally.
There are other rare circumstances that can cause you to be charged with aggravated assault. For instance; if you use a member of a well-known criminal enterprise or gang to threaten or intimidate another person, you may be charged with the offense of aggravated assault. Furthermore, if you are driving a motor vehicle while drunk then, you cause an accident which results in grievous physical injuries to another person; you may be arrested for aggravated assault. In such cases, a vehicle is considered as a dangerous object.
Penalties to the Crime of Aggravated Assault as per Arizona Law
Being convicted with aggravated assault can have a drastic impact on your professional and personal life. The punishment for the crime of aggravated assault is not fixed and, it varies depending on the specific circumstances of your case. The term of sentence a convict may have to serve in prison may range from 1.5 years to 25 years. Therefore, Arizona courts exercise total discretion on deciding the term of a prison sentence a convict is to serve for aggravated assault. Below is a guide to the length of the incarceration sentences as per each specific act of aggravated assault;
Use of a Dangerous Object or Deadly Weapon
If you commit assault while using a dangerous object or deadly weapon, then that act of assault is categorized under class 3. Its minimum prison sentence is 5 years, while its maximum prison term is 15 years.
Grievous Physical Injuries
An act of assault which causes grievous physical injuries to another person is classified under class 3. If you are convicted of an act of assault resulting in grievous physical injuries, your punishment may range from probation to 8.75 jail term years.
Temporary, Substantial Disfigurement
A crime of assault that causes temporary, substantial disfigurement to another person is classified as a class 4 ‘non-dangerous’ felony. In this situation, your punishment may be either probation or a jail term which does not exceed 3.75 years.
Misdemeanour Assault Upgraded Due to the Status of the Victim
A crime of assault is usually a misdemeanor if it does not involve the use of a dangerous object, and if it does not result in grievous physical harm or, substantial but temporary disfigurement. However, as illustrated by ARS 13-1204, if a misdemeanor assault is committed against a specific class of persons; then the misdemeanor assault will be upgraded to felony assault or aggravated assault. Such aggravated assault falls under class 6, and its punishment is mainly probation or, a jail term with a maximum limit of two years.
Committing Assault Against a Child
When you commit an act of assault to a person who is below 15 years old; then your charges of aggravated assault will fall under class 2. Committing assault against a child typically carries a more severe sentence when compared to other types of aggravated assault.
General Provisions Regarding the Punishment of Aggravated Assault Under Arizona Law
The minimum prison term in any crime of aggravated assault can be increased when it is successfully proven by the prosecution that the accused person had been previously convicted before due to past felony crimes. For instance; the prison term for an aggravated assault under class 3 will be increased to a maximum of 16.25 years if the defendant had been convicted before once, and to a limit of 25 years if the defendant had two prior convictions.
Furthermore, when you are convicted of aggravated assault; you may be ordered by the court to pay a fine which may be up to $150,000. Moreover, you may be required to pay damages and compensate the victim and, the court may determine the amount of damages which you will be obligated to pay. Some of these damages and fines can be huge and may cause you serious financial implications.
Also, just like in any other felony charges; you may lose your current employment when convicted. Additionally, even after serving your sentence; you may be discriminated against, and you won't be able to enjoy access to employment opportunities and other fundamental rights such as voting, serving as a member of a jury or, owning a firearm.
All in all, the punishments for aggravated assault in Arizona are incredibly severe. To escape conviction, you will have to assert a number of plausible defenses that can convince the court that you are innocent.
Possible Defenses to the Charge of Aggravated Assault
There are a number of defenses that you can use as an accused person who has been charged with the crime of aggravated assault in the state of Arizona. Every accused person is entitled to the constitutional right to a fair hearing. Therefore, an accused person can present several defenses which may either result in an acquittal or mitigation of charges. Some of these defenses include lack of causation, insufficient evidence and, self-defense.
1. No Causation
Causation is a very significant notion of criminal law and is one of the ways to object to a charge of aggravated assault. Causation links the individual who has been charged with aggravated assault to the bodily physical injury caused to the victim. Therefore, if the accused person is able to dissociate himself from the injury on the alleged victim by proving that he did not punch the victim or either assert mistaken identity or alibi on the day the victim was injured, he will be able to show that he is not directly linked to the physical injury suffered by the victim.
In an aggravated assault case scenario, it is absolutely necessary to prove that the accused person inflicted the injury on the victim and that he was the cause of aggressive contact. If the prosecution is unable to prove that the defendant was not the cause of aggressive contact, then this lack of causation can be a reliable defense.
Similarly, the person who didn’t inflict injury on the victim may be brought to court as a result of mistaken identity. For instance; a person may incur severe physical injuries in a crowded place, such as a wedding or, at a club. When such situation surfaces, law enforcement agencies may arrest an innocent person instead of the person who caused severe physical injuries. If you happen to fall in such circumstances, then you can apply the defense of causation.
2. Self Defense, Defense of Others and, Defense of Property
These three defenses are customarily tied to each other and are applicable in charge of aggravated assault. In circumstances whereby you committed an act of aggravated assault in defense of yourself, your property or, maybe of your loved ones; then you can apply one of these three defenses to save yourself.
However, you must prove that you were only responding to an attack from the victim. You must assert before the court that if you had not defended yourself or your loved ones, you or your loved ones would have been badly injured or murdered. Furthermore, you must illustrate before the court how the victim could have destroyed your property or had an intention to destroy your property had you not committed an act of aggravated assault to stop him or her. For you to assert self-defense, defense of others and, defense of property, the victim should have been the aggressor and, you must prove that you were shielding yourself from the victim’s act of aggression.
3. Insufficient Evidence
In criminal cases, the burden of proof is usually on the prosecution. In an aggravated assault case, the prosecution must prove that you had the intention and that you committed an act of aggravated assault to a standard of beyond reasonable doubt. You can always apply the defense of insufficient evidence in an Arizona court where the prosecution is unable to discharge its burden and standard of proof fully. For instance; you can assert that there is no proof of the involvement of a dangerous weapon or, that the prosecution has no eyewitnesses.
4. The Commission of the Crime of Aggravated Assault was Accidental
You can defend yourself by stating that you didn’t commit the crime of aggravated assault intentionally, but it was rather accidental. Since the prosecution must prove that you intentionally committed the crime of aggravated assault, by asserting that you committed it accidentally; then the prosecution’s case will not hold water.
5. Lack of Knowledge of Status
If your charge of simple assault was upgraded to aggravated assault because you committed the act of assault towards a designated professional as specified by ARS 13-1204, then you can use the defense of lack of knowledge of status. In this defense, you will assert that you did not know that the person’s profession falls within the classes of profession enlisted by ARS 13-1204. For instance; you may have assaulted a police officer who was attempting to flag you down on the wrong impression that he was a member of a criminal gang.
Intoxication as a Defense in Aggravated Assault
In most instances, the crime of aggravated assault is committed in alcoholic and drug-based joints. However, you cannot assert the defense of intoxication in an aggravated assault case if you took the intoxicating substance willingly before committing the crime of aggravated assault. The defense of intoxication is only applicable when you can successfully prove to the court that you did not take the intoxicating substance by choice, but rather you were induced or compelled to take the drug or alcohol. Most people may think that the defense of intoxication is always applicable in charges of aggravated assault, but this is not the case.
Other Charges Related to Aggravated Assault
According to Arizona law, there are three main charges related to aggravated assault. These charges include simple assault, endangerment and, threatening or intimidating.
1. Simple Assault
Simple assault is a misdemeanor, whereas aggravated assault is a felony. According to Arizona law, an individual can commit the crime of simple assault if the individual attacks another person aggressively and, with the intention to cause physical harm; but without causing grievous bodily harm or utilizing a dangerous object. Simple assault attracts a less severe penalty when compared to aggravated assault.
According to A.R.S. 13-1201, a person can be charged with the crime of endangerment if that person recklessly endangers another person with a considerable risk of physical injury or, imminent death. Endangerment is usually charged as a misdemeanor, but if the act of endangerment involved a huge risk of imminent death; then it will be charged as a felony.
3. Threatening or Intimidating
A.R.S. 13-1202 states that a person is held to have committed the crime of threatening or intimidating if that person intimidates or threatens by conduct or word to bring about bodily injury to another individual or, cause grievous damage to someone else’s property and to recklessly bring about public inconvenience. The crime of threatening or misdemeanor can be charged both as a felony and misdemeanor; depending on the specific circumstances of each case.
Find a Phoenix Criminal Attorney Near Me
The charge of aggravated assault is taken very seriously in Arizona, and if you are convicted of it; you may face grievous life devastating consequences. Therefore, it may not be wise to figure it out on your own or, rely on the services of a public defender who may not have time to build the best defense on your behalf. Therefore, it is best to hire the services of an experienced criminal attorney who will take the time to investigate your case and develop a strong defense against your charges.
Our team at Phoenix Criminal Attorney is made up of a group of skilled, reliable and, empathetic attorneys who will do all that it takes to defend you in an aggravated assault case. Our team will work with you to come up with plausible defenses that can either acquit or mitigate your charges.
If you or, your loved one has been arrested for aggravated assault and want to be advised by one of our attorneys. You can always call our Phoenix criminal attorney at 602-551-8092 and get professional help from one of our qualified attorneys. You don’t have to go through this challenging situation alone, call us today and get the best legal advice.