The criminal act of assault in Arizona is knowingly or recklessly causing physical injury to another person; or knowingly touching another person with the intent to injure, insult or provoke; or intentionally causing another person to reasonably fear imminent bodily harm. Generally, these acts are misdemeanors. But they are quickly upgraded to felonies when aggravating circumstances are involved.
Aggravated Assault in Tucson or elsewhere throughout Arizona, according to ARS §13-1204, is the commission of assault, as defined by ARS §13-1203, but committing it under different circumstances that require more punishment (for deterrent reasons) than what's imposed when assault without aggravating circumstances is committed. Aggravated assault is generally a dangerous offense, and so the commission of it, even if its the first offense, will result in prison time. The statute on aggravated assault is long and complex. Here, the attempt is made to break it down so that you better understand what aggravated assault is and what the potential penalties are for committing it if convicted of it in the state of Arizona.
Offenses: Aggravated Assault in Arizona
Aggravated assault is usually a Class 3 or Class 4 felony. There are a number of circumstances that can elevate a simple assault (misdemeanor) to the status of "aggravated." The most common circumstances are where the Defendant:
- causes serious physical injury or substantial disfigurement to another person;
- uses a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument to intentionally place somebody in imminent fear of serious physical injury;
- commits misdemeanor assault on a police officer, firefighter, teacher, prosecutor, healthcare provider, or prison guard;
- commits misdemeanor assault on a child who is 15 or younger (so long as the person committing the assault is 18 years old or older);
- commits assault on a person who is restrained at the time of the assault; or
- commits assault after entering the private home of someone.
Less common circumstances include threatening/intimidating behavior or endanger another person, under the following circumstances where the Defendant:
- threatens or intimidates another person or his or her property, and the threat is made against that person because he or she is a witness to a crime;
- threatens or intimidates another person or his or her property, and the threat is made by a member of a gang or other criminal enterprise; or
- acts in a way that creates the risk of "imminent death."
To note, it is not well-known, but aggravated assault can apply in cases where a driver is drunk and causes an accident that results in serious physical injury or substantial disfigurement to another person. Vehicles qualify as a "dangerous instrument."
Penalties: Aggravated Assault in Arizona
The range of punishment to which a Defendant will be sentenced depends largely on the provision of the Aggravated Assault statute that was violated and any criminal record the Defendant may already have.
As already mentioned, the Aggravated Assault statute is long and complex. The punishments can vary from 1.5 years to 25 years in prison, or more in some cases where the circumstances call for it. The below outline of possible penalties is not complete and is meant only to provide a guide to the possibilities of what penalties could be attached to the specific details of the crime. The below guide refers to incarceration only, but a sentencing judge may also impose other penalties.
1. Deadly Weapon
If assault is committed while using a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument, then the mandatory range of punishment on a first offense Class 3 is 5 years minimum and 15 years maximum. The minimums are increased under the following two circumstances:
- The Defendant has one prior dangerous felony conviction: the range of incarceration is 10 - 20 years.
- The Defendant has two prior dangerous felony convictions: the range of incarceration is 15 - 25 years.
2. Serious Physical Injury
If the assault resulted in serious physical injury or substantial disfigurement (without a weapon or dangerous instrument), then the punishment on a Class 3 ranges from probation with no time in prison to 8.75 years of incarceration. If the Defendant has prior convictions, then the range increases according to the number of prior convictions:
- The Defendant has one prior conviction: the range is 3.5 - 16.25 years incarceration.
- The Defendant has two prior convictions: the range is 7.5 - 25 years incarceration.
3. Temporary but Substantial Disfigurement
If the assault does not result in serious physical injury but results in temporary but substantial disfigurement, including a fracture of any body part, then the offense is a Class 4 "non-dangerous" felony. The range of punishment includes probation with no time in jail to 3.75 years in jail. If the Defendant has prior convictions, then the range increases according to the number of prior convictions:
- The Defendant has one prior conviction: the range is 2.25 - 7.5 years incarceration.
- The Defendant has two prior convictions: the range is 6 - 15 years incarceration.
4. Misdemeanor Assault Upgrade due to Victim's Status
If the assault would have normally been a misdemeanor assault because it involved neither a deadly weapon nor serious injuries, but it was committed on a particular person of the community, then the assault becomes aggravated assault Clads 6 felony. The particular persons of the community include:
- police officer;
- school teacher;
- health care provider; or
- prison guard.
Aggravated assault Class 6 felony, under these circumstances, carries with it punishment ranging from probation with no time in jail to 2 years of incarceration. If the Defendant has prior convictions, then the range increases according to the number or prior convictions:
- The Defendant has one prior conviction: the range is 9 months to 2.75 years incarceration.
- The Defendant has two prior convictions: the range is 2.25 - 5.75 years incarceration.
5. Intentional Aggravated Assault on Peace Officer in Course of Duty
When assault is committed against a peace officer intentionally or knowingly when the officer is engaged in his or her official duties, and the Defendant used either a deadly weapon or the assault resulted in serious injury, then the offense is a Class 2 felony. The minimum sentence for a first offense is 10.5 years of incarceration and the maximum of 21 years incarceration. As in the above offenses, if the Defendant has any prior convictions, then the range of punishment is increased as follows:
- The Defendant has one prior conviction: the range is 15.75 - 28 years incarceration.
- The Defendant has two prior convictions: the range is 28 - 35 years incarceration.
6. Underage Victim
If the victim is under 15 years of age, aggravated assault is a Class 2 felony. This particular charge carries with it much higher prison ranges than any of the ranges above-outlined.
Contact a Criminal Defense Attorney Immediately
The combination of a complex Aggravated Assault statute and the severe penalties that accompany all of the charges listed thereunder, it is important that you seek legal counsel from an experienced, resourceful criminal defense attorney. Contact our criminal defense attorneys at Sherick and Bleier Law Office today at 520-318-3939 to schedule a consultation.