Aggravated Assault in Arizona (A.R.S. §13-1204)
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Whether in the Phoenix area, or anywhere in Arizona, per ARS §13-1204 Aggravated Assault is committing Assault under ARS §13-1203 under a variety of circumstances that the legislature has deemed to require more punishment than available under the normal Assault statute. Read this page to learn about Possible Punishments, Defenses and Your Rights.
The most commonly charged circumstances for Aggravated Assault are committing an Assault where the defendant:
- Causes serious physical injury or substantial disfigurement to another, or;
- Uses a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument (i.e., a car) to intentionally place somebody in imminent fear of serious physical injury.
Aggravated Assault is also typically charged when a person commits an ordinary assault on a police officer, teacher, prosecutor, health care provider, or prison guard; because of the status of these public servants, any assault on them automatically may be charged as a felony. Additionally, a person can commit Aggravated Assault if they are eighteen (18) years of age or older and commit a misdemeanor assault on a child who is age fifteen (15) or younger. The range of punishment a defendant faces varies depending on which provision of the Aggravated Assault statute the defendant is charged with violating.
Vehicular Aggravated Assault typically is charged if somebody is drunk behind the wheel of a car and has an accident which results in serious physical injury or substantial disfigurement to another person, because a car qualifies as a “dangerous instrument.”
Possible Punishments for Aggravated Assault
The Aggravated Assault statute is very long and detailed, and the punishments and potential charges widely vary depending on the details of the offense and the case. Here are just a few of the possible sentences and charges that a defendant could face. However, it is best to consult an attorney since the statute is confusing, and this excerpt is not a complete list of possible consequences of an Aggravated Assault conviction.
If any Aggravated Assault is committed while using a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument then the mandatory range of punishment on a first offense class three (3) “dangerous” felony range from:
- Five (5) years minimum, seven and one half (7.5) presumptive, and fifteen (15) years maximum.
- If a person has one (1) allegeable historical prior dangerous felony conviction, then the range increases to ten (10) years minimum, eleven and one quarter (11.25) years presumptive, and twenty (20) years maximum of incarceration.
- If the person has two (2) allegeable historical prior dangerous felony convictions, then the “prison only” mandatory minimum punishment is fifteen (15) years, the presumptive is twenty (20) years, and the maximum is twenty-five (25) years of incarceration.
If the assault involves serious physical injury or substantial disfigurement (without a weapon or dangerous instrument), then the range of punishment on the class three (3) “non-dangerous” felony can be:
- Anywhere from probation with zero (0) days in jail up to one (1) year in jail, or prison from two (2) years to eight and three-quarters (8.75) years incarceration.
- If the person has one (1) allegeable historical prior conviction then the “prison only” range is three and one half (3.5) years to sixteen and one quarter (16.25) years of incarceration.
- If the person has two (2) allegeable historical prior convictions, then the “prison only” range is seven and one half (7.5) years to twenty-five (25) years of incarceration.
If the Assault does not involve serious physical injury, but only involves temporary but substantial disfigurement, or a fracture of any body part, then the range of punishment on this class four (4) “non-dangerous” felony can be:
- Probation with zero (0) days in jail to one (1) year in jail, or prison from one (1) year to three and three-quarters (3.75).
- If the person has one (1) historical allegeable prior conviction, then the “prison only” range is two and one quarter (2.25) years to seven and one half (7.5) years of incarceration.
- If the person has two (2) historical allegeable prior convictions, then the “prison only” range is six (6) years to fifteen (15) years of incarceration.
If the Assault is normally a misdemeanor assault because it does not involve any serious injury, but it was committed on a police officer, school teacher, prosecutor, health care provider or prison guard, then this becomes a class six (6) felony, which carries punishment of anywhere from:
- Probation with zero (0) days in jail to one (1) year in jail, or prison of four (4) months to two (2) years in custody.
- If the person has one (1) allegeable historical prior conviction, then the “prison only” range is nine (9) months to two and three quarters (2.75) years in prison.
- If the person has two (2) allegeable historical prior convictions, then the “prison only” range is two and one quarter (2.25) to five and three quarters (5.75) years of incarceration.
A person who is convicted of intentionally or knowingly committing Aggravated Assault on a peace officer while the officer is engaged in the execution of any official duties, using a deadly weapon or that results in serious physical injury to the officer, is charged with a class two (2) felony, and must serve presumptive sentence as the minimum sentence.
- First offense, the minimum is 10.5 years incarceration, maximum 21 years.
- If the person has one (1) allegeable historical prior conviction, then the “prison only” range is fifteen and three quarters (15.75) years with a maximum of twenty-eight (28) years incarceration.
- If the person has two (2) allegeable historical prior convictions, then the “prison only” range is twenty-eight (28) years minimum, and maximum thirty-five (35) years incarceration.
Because the Aggravated Assault statute is so complicated and any prison sentences are very dependent on what particularly the defendant has been charged with, it is important to seek advice from an attorney to find out about what you could potentially be facing.
Possible Defenses for Aggravated Assault
The most common defense utilized with regard to Aggravated Assault is Self- Defense. In most assault situations, the alleged “victim” will often be the one who makes the first aggressive movement towards the defendant. This usually occurs when alcohol is involved. For example, if the alleged victim is impaired by alcohol and then attempts to push or grab the defendant, if the defendant simply pulls away the “victim” can lose their balance and injure themselves. Unfortunately, the defendant now automatically becomes the prime suspect because they were uninjured in the altercation. Additionally, if the Assault involves a man and a woman, then typically regardless of who started the physical altercation, the man will usually be charged with a crime while the woman is automatically seen as the “victim.” It is necessary to emphasize the “victim’s” violent and aggressive behavior and the defendant’s calm and peaceful behavior.
If the alleged “victim” of the Aggravated Assault is a peace officer, it is important to show that the defendant was unaware that they were a police officer. Additionally, it will be very important to show that the police officer was not engaged in his official duties at the time of the alleged assault by the defendant.
The key to defending Aggravated Assault cases will depend on eye-witness testimony, physical evidence analysis, finding and interviewing other witnesses not listed in the police report, the search for any potential security video cameras which may have been present at or near the scene (i.e., security cameras which are located at Walmart and gas station parking lots) and character evidence. In addition, many times the alleged victim will want the charges to be dropped; this is what is known as a recalcitrant witness. Unfortunately, the State is the one bringing the charges, and not the alleged victim. The State can force the alleged victim to appear and testify against the defendant if they so desire. When we are involved in a case, if there is a recalcitrant witness, we can most often convince the prosecutor to either dismiss the charges or plead the case to a lesser charge (i.e., Simple Assault).
An additional defense when the defendant is charged with a violation by “placing the victim in reasonable apprehension of physical injury” is presenting evidence that it was unreasonable for the “victim” to be fearful. We would present evidence that a reasonable person in the “victim’s” shoes would not have been frightened because the defendant did not present any sort of threat. Testimony about the victim’s state of mind, especially alcohol or drug use, is crucial in demonstrating the defendant’s reasonable behavior and the victim’s irrational behavior.
Your Constitutional Rights and How they can Protect You
Additionally, because our law firm fights conviction from all angles, we would assert a wide range of defenses and challenges to constitutional violations that apply in all criminal cases. The possibilities are numerous and diverse. One of those we frequently assert is a “Miranda rights violation.” In Arizona, the standard of whether any incriminating statement (i.e., a statement which tends to admit guilt) is admissible into evidence is based upon a “voluntariness” standard. If we can demonstrate that the police coerced you (i.e., intimidated or tricked you) into making a confession or inculpatory statement, or that they did not properly read you your Miranda Rights, then we can suppress those statements and any evidence gathered as a direct result of those statements. In addition, the “denial of right to Counsel” is another common defense which is often raised. This occurs when a suspect is in custody and requests to speak to their attorney, but is denied and questioning continues. Other defenses may include challenging the validity of any search warrant, or whether there were any “forensic flaws” during the investigation of your case.
Depending on what else you have been charged with, this could include exposing flawed procedures regarding blood, breath, and urine testing; fingerprints analysis; DNA testing; ballistics; gunshot residue testing; computer analysis/cloning hard drive procedures; forensic financial accounting reviews; etc.. Lastly, one of the most common defense tactics is exposing sloppy or misleading police reports which include everything from misstatements, false statements, flawed photo line-ups and witness identification procedures, and inaccurate crime scene reconstruction. It is important to hire a skilled Aggravated Assault lawyer to defend you who has knowledge of all the possible defenses to assert in your case.