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What is Considered Aggravated Assault in Arizona?

A person may be charged with aggravated assault in Arizona if they have an altercation with another person. If you or a loved one has been charged with this crime or you’re concerned about being charged and you want to know more, you may find the following information helpful. You need to learn what assault means, how aggravated assault differs and the penalties that go along with the charge if you are convicted.

What is the Definition of Assault?

According to the Arizona Revised Statute, assault (see: ARS 13-1203) happens when someone attacks another person with the intent to do harm. Even someone who attempts to harm another person but doesn’t succeed could be charged with assault. This may be a misdemeanor or it can be upgraded to a felony charge, which has more serious repercussions.

Someone may be charged with assault whether they attacked the other person or both people were mutually fighting. The attacker may not have touched the other person, but they fear being attacked because of the person’s behavior.

An example of assault that doesn’t involve physical violence would be the following: Bill and Joe meet on the street and Bill lifts his hand in a fist as if he’s about to hit Joe. He yells, “I’m going to get you for what you did.” He could be charged with assault even though he hadn’t touched Joe, but the threat was real. Joe was frightened by the raised fist. If there had been no behavior or words, a charge of assault could not have been made even if Joe was afraid of Bill. It is the action of the person that makes the charge, not the reaction of the potential victim.

What Makes Assault Aggravated?

An assault may be labeled as aggravated for a few reasons. If there is an extenuating factor such as a weapon, it may be called aggravated assault (see: ARS 13-1204). Another factor that would turn an assault into something more is the relationship between the two people.

If there is intent to do more than simple assault, it may be classified as aggravated assault. For instance, a woman is attacked by a man who intends to rape her. She gets away before it happens, but he can be charged with aggravated assault even though the intended crime was not completed.

States label assault as aggravated by different definitions. It’s important to know the specifics for the state where you live because the penalties will be more severe than with simple assault.


What Classifies as Aggravated Assault in Arizona?

Aggravated assault is defined in the Arizona statutes in ARS 13-1204. Several criteria may be used to reach this classification, and the person doesn’t need to meet more than one. They are as follows:

  • The person causes serious injury to the victim
  • A deadly weapon or dangerous instrument is used in the assault
  • The injury results in temporary disfigurement or loss of use of any body part
  • Victim was restrained during the assault
  • Assault occurs in the home of the victim
  • Attacker is 18 years or older and the victim is 15 years or younger

In addition to these specific definitions of aggravated assault, an attack may be considered aggravated if the victim is employed in certain positions. For instance, they may be a teacher at a school or a health care worker. The victim may be a peace officer, fire fighter, park ranger, public defender or judicial officer. The person must be engaged in the duties of their job at the time of the assault.

There are various instances when an assault may be upgraded to aggravated in Arizona. It’s important to know what these are if you are the victim of the attacker or the family of either.


What are the Penalties for Aggravated Assault in Arizona?

Assault carries some specific penalties for the attacker, but the punishment can be more severe if the charge is upgraded to aggravated. Under this charge are several classes which are defined by the severity of the assault.

A Class 6 felony is considered the least severe of the charges. If convicted, the person could serve from 18 months up to 3 years in prison.

With a Class 5 felony, the term could be from 2 years to 4 years while Class 4 is from four to eight years. Class 3 convictions carry a sentence up to 15 years. If a person is convicted of a Class 2 felony, which is the most severe, the prison sentence starts at 7 years and can go up to 21 years.

In addition to prison time, you can face fines for aggravated assault. These fines can be up to $150,000, which doesn’t include restitution to the victim. Other fees may also be imposed.

One of the most severe penalties for a person convicted of this crime is a felony record that will last through their lifetime. It will show up any time an employer or landlord does a criminal background check. It may limit them on where they can live and what job they can get.


Understanding the Terms Related to Aggravated Assault

Several terms in the Arizona statute on assault may need to be explained to be understood correctly. First, there is the term “deadly weapon” which may refer to an actual weapon or anything that is used in this way.

Severe physical injury” may refer to a serious injury that a person cannot quickly heal from. It may result in long-term or even permanent damage.

It’s important to know that if you or someone you love has been charged with aggravated assault, it’s not the end of the story. You may be able to negotiate the charge to a lesser one, such as simple assault. You may also be able to reduce the charge by disproving the circumstances surrounding the incident. If it can be proven that the criteria for aggravated assault don’t exist, you may be able to plead to a lesser charge or have the charges dismissed altogether.

Aggravated assault isn’t something you can do accidentally. A person who commits this crime must intend to do harm to another person. They must meet certain criteria to fit this charge. Now that you know what this term means, you can figure out the next step.

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