Vehicular Aggravated Assault (A.R.S. §13-1204)
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In Arizona, per A.R.S. §13-1204, Aggravated Assault normally occurs in one of two ways:
- intentionally, knowingly or recklessly causing serious physical injury or substantial disfigurement to another, or
- using a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument (i.e., a car) to intentionally place somebody in imminent fear of serious physical injury.
Watch this short video where David explains Vehicular Aggravated Assault in Arizona:
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.” In order to convict upon this charge in category #1, the prosecutor must show that the defendant’s driving was reckless and caused serious injury to somebody. In order to convict on category #2, the prosecutor must show that the defendant intended to seriously injure someone with his/her car, or the defendant wanted to scare someone with his/her car.
Possible Punishment for Aggravated Assault
If any Aggravated Assault is committed while using a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument (i.e., a car), the following punishments will be given:
- Mandatory range of punishment on a first offense Class 3 “dangerous” felony is 5 years minimum; 7.5 years presumptive; and 15 years maximum.
- If the victim is under 15 years of age, or is a police officer, then it is a Class 2 felony and the prison time increases to 7 years minimum; 10.5 years presumptive and 21 years maximum.
If the Aggravated Assault does not involve the use of a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument (i.e., if a jury determines your car is not a dangerous instrument) but still caused serious physical injury or substantial disfigurement, then the crime is classified as a Class 3 “non-dangerous” felony and the potential sentence drops to the following potential sentences:
- Probation with zero (0) days in jail up to one (1) year in jail; or prison from 2 years to 8.75 years incarceration.
- If the person has one (1) allegeable historical prior conviction then the “prison only” range is 3.5 years to 16.25 years of incarceration.
- If the person has two (2) allegeable historical prior convictions, then the “prison only” range is 7.5 years to 25 years of incarceration.
If the Aggravated Assault does not involve serious physical injury to the alleged victim, but only involves temporary but substantial disfigurement, or a fracture of any body part, then the range of punishment on this Class 4 “non-dangerous” felony is as follows:
- Probation with zero (0) days in jail to 1 year in jail; or prison from 1 to 3.75 years.
- If the person has one (1) historical allegeable prior conviction, then the “prison only” range is 2.25 years to 7.5 years of incarceration.
- If the person has two (2) historical allegeable prior convictions, then the “prison only” range is 6 to 15 years of incarceration.
Possible Defenses for Aggravated Assault
In order to fight this Vehicular Aggravated Assault charge, it needs to be shown that the defendant did not intend to hurt, threaten or scare anyone with his car. Additionally, it must be shown that the defendant was not recklessly driving his car. The standard of “recklessness” in Arizona is that the defendant was aware of, and consciously disregarded, a substantial and unjustifiable risk that the result would occur or that a dangerous circumstance existed. The risk must be of such a nature and degree that disregard of such risk constitutes a gross deviation from the standard of conduct that a reasonable person would observe in the situation.
In plain language, this means that the prosecutor will try to put forth various reasons why the defendant acted or drove unreasonably, most often focusing on any speeding, alcohol intake, or any drug use by the defendant. Using forensic investigative techniques, it is our job to refute the state’s evidence that any of those factors occurred the way the prosecution has described. We accomplish this goal by highlighting the unreliability of the state’s forensic techniques and experts. We also need to emphasize in our defense that even if the evidence presented by the state is true as to the defendant’s condition or the way the accident occurred, that the defendant’s conduct was not unreasonable.
Additionally, a good defense team should attempt to show that the accident was the other person’s fault, or at least not the fault of the defendant. This can be accomplished by interviewing witnesses and examining the mechanics of the cars to identify any manufacturing defects that could have contributed to the accident.
In order to fight this Vehicular Aggravated Assault charge, and any other criminal charges that you might face, as your attorneys we would assert a number of various other defenses designed to protect your constitutional rights. One of those we frequently assert is a “Miranda rights violation.” In Arizona, the standard of whether any inculpatory 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; 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 inaccurate crime scene reconstruction. It is important to hire a skilled Vehicular Aggravated Assault lawyer to defend you who has knowledge of all the possible defenses to assert in your case.
It is important to hire an AV® rated law firm (the highest possible rating by Martindale Hubbell®). Also David Michael Cantor is a Vehicular Aggravated Assault Lawyer in Arizona, and a Certified Criminal Law Specialist, per the Arizona Board of Legal Specialization. In addition, the Firm and all of its lawyers are listed in the Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers®. At DM Cantor, the majority of our Attorneys are ex-Prosecutors, and all of our Vehicular Aggravated Assault Lawyers in Arizona know the system well. For a free initial consultation, call us at 602-307-0808, or click here to contact us now.