Aggravated assault is a serious crime that carries severe penalties. Under Arizona law, an aggravated assault conviction can lead to years (or decades) of imprisonment, with incarceration being mandatory in some cases. Regardless of how much time you spend behind bars, having an aggravated assault conviction on your record will negatively impact most aspects of your life, and unlike many other states, Arizona does not have a process for expungement.
What Constitutes an Aggravated Assault in Arizona?
The crime of aggravated assault is defined in Section 13-1204 of the Arizona Revised Statutes. Section 13-1204 is exceptionally long and complex, so simply understanding the charges against you can be challenging. This is one of several reasons why it is essential to speak with an experienced criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible.
Fundamentally, an aggravated assault is an ordinary (or “simple”) assault committed under aggravating circumstances. Section 13-1203 of the Arizona Revised Statutes defines assault as follows:
“A person commits assault by: 1. Intentionally, knowingly or recklessly causing any physical injury to another person; or 2. Intentionally placing another person in reasonable apprehension of imminent physical injury; or 3. Knowingly touching another person with the intent to injure, insult or provoke such person.”
What is an aggravating circumstance? Under Section 13-1204.A., all of the following factors can elevate a case from assault to aggravated assault:
- Using a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument during the assault
- Using a “simulated deadly weapon” during the assault
- Causing serious physical injury to the victim
- Causing “temporary but substantial disfigurement, temporary but substantial loss or impairment of any body organ or part or a fracture of any body part.”
- Assaulting a minor under the age of 15 if the assailant is age 18 or older
- Committing an assault while the victim is bound or otherwise physically restrained
- Committing an assault while the victim’s ability to resist is substantially impaired
- Committing an assault after entering someone else’s home
- Committing an assault knowing (or having reason to know) that the victim is a peace officer, firefighter, teacher, healthcare worker, prosecutor, park ranger, public defender, or judicial officer
- Taking (or attempting to take) a police officer’s weapon in the course of committing an assault
- Committing an assault while imprisoned or otherwise in custody
But even these are just examples. The subsequent provisions of Section 13-1204 list multiple other forms of aggravated assault. These include “intentionally, knowingly or recklessly causing any physical injury to another person” and “intentionally placing another person in reasonable apprehension of imminent physical injury” through strangulation, among others. As discussed in greater detail below, the specific circumstances involved in an Arizona aggravated assault case will determine the offense’s level and the penalties on the table.
What Is the Felony Classification of Aggravated Assault in Arizona?
Regardless of the circumstances involved, aggravated assault is a felony-level offense under Arizona law. This contrasts with “simple” assault, a misdemeanor offense in all cases. Depending on the circumstances involved, an aggravated assault charge can range from a class 6 to a class 2 felony:
- Class 6 Felony – Aggravated assault can be prosecuted as a class 6 felony in Arizona when the sole aggravating factor is that the victim is a firefighter, teacher, healthcare worker, park ranger, public defender, or judicial officer.
- Class 5 Felony – Aggravated assault can be prosecuted as a class 5 felony if the sole aggravating factor is the fact that the victim is a police officer or prosecutor, if the alleged assailant is incarcerated, or if the suspected assailant took (or attempted to take) a police officer’s weapon (other than a firearm).
- Class 4 Felony – Aggravated assault can be prosecuted as a class 4 felony if the assailant took (or attempted to take) a police officer’s firearm if the assault resulted in physical injury to a police officer, the assault results in temporary disfigurement or impairment, or the assault involves strangulation.
- Class 3 Felony – Aggravated assault can be prosecuted as a class 3 felony. This includes almost all cases involving serious physical injury or using a deadly weapon (or simulated deadly weapon), regardless of the victim’s identity or any other circumstances applied.
- Class 2 Felony – Aggravated assault can be prosecuted as a class 2 felony in cases involving severe physical injury or use of a deadly weapon (or simulated deadly weapon) if the victim is a police officer, prosecutor, or under 15.
What Are the Penalties for Aggravated Assault in Arizona?
The felony classification of an aggravated assault charge determines the penalties that are on the table. All aggravated assault charges carry a “presumptive sentence,” which is the prison term the judge will typically impose absent evidence of mitigating circumstances. The presumptive sentences for aggravated assault in Arizona are:
- Class 6 Aggravated Assault – 27 months
- Class 5 Aggravated Assault – 3 years
- Class 4 Aggravated Assault – 6 years
- Class 3 Aggravated Assault – 7.5 years
- Class 2 Aggravated Assault – 10.5 years
But, the maximum prison sentences for aggravated assault in Arizona can be far more significant. Since aggravated assault is classified as a “dangerous” felony under Arizona law, it carries more significant penalties than most other felony offenses. For example, if you are facing a class 6 aggravated assault charge, a conviction could result in up to 3 years of jail time. If you are being charged with class 2 aggravated assault, you could be sentenced to up to 21 years behind bars. Due to the life-altering consequences of an aggravated assault conviction in Arizona, you should speak with an experienced criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible if you are facing prosecution.
Speak with an Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer in Tempe or Phoenix, AZ
Are you facing an aggravated assault charge in Arizona? If so, we encourage you to contact us promptly for a free and confidential case assessment. To speak with an experienced criminal defense lawyer at The Weingart Firm, call 480-405-7922 or tell us how we can reach you online now.