Aggravated Assault in Arizona
Video Transcript: Aggravated Assault Prohibited Conduct
This is a very common charge.
The statute itself is very, very bulky. It has a lot of language, and so we’re going to break it up into a couple different videos.
Today, we’re going to be talking specifically about the first part of the statute, the details, different types of situations, different type of conduct, that will take a regular assault charge and aggravate it.
Aggravation means it gets worse. It’s taking it from a lower level offense. It’s now aggravated. It’s now a lot more severe.
It takes it from a simple misdemeanor charge up into a felony, and there are different ways that this could happen.
As I said, the statute’s very long, but today, we’re going to talk about the seven different ways that you could be charged with aggravated assault.
So, it’s a regular assault plus some other factors that aggravate it. So, let’s look at the statutes.
So, if you want to look this up, you can look up regular assault, it’s 13-1203. That’s regular assault.
The aggravated assault is just one statute down, 13-1204.
And so, let’s start with the regular assault.
So, I have another video about this, but just a quick refresher: regular assault occurs when there is actual physical injury, so one person causes physical injury.
Can be intentional, it can be reckless.
There are different ways that that could happen.
But, if there is a physical injury, one person causes another physical injury, that’s the first way you can get an assault.
The next way: you don’t actually have to cause the physical injury, but if you put a person in apprehension that imminent physical injury is going to be coming their way, you can also be charged with assault.
So, you may not actually have any physical contact, but it’s reasonable for that person to fear it, that it’s going to be coming quickly, you can be charged with assault for that.
And finally, if there’s any touching. So, it may not actually have to cause an injury, but if there’s any physical touching that’s meant to injure or provoke or kind of harass that person, that’s the other way you can be charged with assault.
Again, these are all misdemeanor assaults under 13-1203. If you have all of these factors or one of these factors and one of these other different situations occur, so there’s some additional conduct, it will take it from a regular assault into an aggravated assault.
So, let’s look at what these first seven are. First and foremost, and this is probably one of the more common types of aggravated assaults, is if an assault occurs and there is serious physical injury that occurs on the person who was the victim of the assault.
Serious physical injury is kind of vague, and so we have to look to a different statute, the definitions section under Arizona criminal law, which is 13-105, it defines what serious physical injury is.
And, it is a serious physical injury, so what the definition says, it causes a substantial risk of death, either a serious or permanent disfigurement, or a serious impairment of a person’s health, bodily organs, or limbs, so this is breaking something or actually physically causing gouges or doing something that causes somebody to be substantially injured.
Serious physical injury, it’s defined here and it’s pretty detailed. It’s not talking about scrapes or bumps and bruises.
It’s a serious disfigurement, it’s a loss of a limb, it’s a serious injury to an organ. It happens when there’s a major fight, somebody really gets beaten up, and that would probably reach that level.
So, that’s the first way that a regular assault can be aggravated. The next way is if there’s anything happening here and the additional conduct involved using a weapon or a deadly instrument.
So, a weapon, of course, would be a knife or a gun or a baseball bat or something like that, but we’ve also seen it in situations where somebody used a lamp or somebody used a chair or something like that. It would constitute a dangerous instrument because of the bluntness of the object or because of the facts of what actually happened.
That will elevate it from a regular assault to an aggravated assault, so a dangerous instrument or deadly weapon. The other way that you can get it, number three here, is where there’s substantial disfigurement, but it’s temporary.
So, if somebody’s seriously injured, they have to get stitches, they’re injured, they’re disfigured, but they’re going to eventually heal. That’s going to rise to that level.
Similarly, if a person loses the function of a body part or an organ or if there is a fracture, so if a bone is fractured or ribs are fractured or something happens to the body that is more substantial but it doesn’t rise to the level of, say, a serious physical injury because it’s not permanent but it’s temporary, but it meets these criteria, that’s also a factor that’s going to aggravate it into an aggravated assault case.
Number four is when the victim is bound or substantially restrained so that they cannot resist, so if a person’s tied up, if a person’s kind of locked in a certain position where they can’t actually fight back or they can’t escape, they can’t get away, that’s going to elevate it to a aggravated assault charge.
Similarly, number five is when a person enters a private residence. So, if a person enters into a residence or a location where they’re not supposed to be and they have intent to commit the assault, that’s going to aggravate it.
They want to protect the home, and if somebody enters into that residence with the intent to commit an assault, it’s not just going to be a simple assault.
It’s going to be an aggravated assault because a person has to make a volitional act to actually enter into a residence.
Number six: If the defendant is somebody who is 18 years or older, so this should be here, if a defendant is 18 years or older and the victim is under the age of 15, that’s going to be aggravated.
So, this is an adult who’s committing an assault on somebody who’s under the age of 15. It’s not just going to be a simple assault even if it is just a minor physical injury or some level of touching.
If it happens where there’s that big differential between the ages between the person who’s alleged to have committed the assault and the person who’s the recipient of the assault, that’s going to be aggravated.
And finally, in this video, we’re going to talk about the violation of an order of protection. So, if there’s a court order that somebody has taken out against somebody else, so a court order, an order of protection, is an order from a court, from a judge.
It’s signed off on and it basically precludes somebody from having contact with somebody else, so it’s saying Person A has an order of protection against Person B.
That means Person B cannot contact Person A, cannot go to certain locations, there’s not to be any communication unless it’s facilitated by the police, these types of things.
So, if Person B violates that order and actually breaches an active, valid order, they go to that person’s residence or they meet them at their work or they go someplace where they’re not supposed to be in violation of that order and they commit an assault, it’s not going to be a simple assault. It’s going to be an aggravated assault.
So, these are the different ways that you can get an aggravated assault. As a reminder, you have to take a regular assault and add some sort of aggravating factors here in order for it to elevate it into a felony.
There’s going to be many more videos about aggravated assault because it’s a big, long statute. The next video, we’re going to talk about the different victims and what protections are in place to make sure that there is no assaults occurring on them.
Then, we’ll talk about some of the penalties and some of the defenses, but this is a brief overview on how aggravated assault works.
If you have been charged with aggravated assault, somebody you know or somebody you love has been, give our office a call.
We offer free case evaluations.
We’ll have you come into our office.
We’ll sit down.
We’ll make sure we understand the facts of your case, specifically what happened, make sure that we can put together a strong defense for you so that you’re not convicted of aggravated assault. Free case evaluations.
Give our office a call. We look forward to speaking with you.
Thanks for watching.
Aggravated Assault Charges in Arizona
Aggravated assault is defined under A.R.S. 13-1204. It says that an Aggravated Assault occurs when there is an assault (classified under A.R.S. 13-1203) and there is also any one of the following circumstances:
- If the person causes serious physical injury to another
- If the person uses a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument
- If the person commits the assault by any means of force that causes temporary but substantial disfigurement, temporary but substantial loss or impairment of any body organ or part or a fracture of any body part.
- If the person commits the assault while the victim is bound or otherwise physically restrained or while the victim’s capacity to resist is substantially impaired.
- If the person commits the assault after entering the private home of another with the intent to commit the assault.
- If the person is eighteen years of age or older and commits the assault on a minor under fifteen years of age.
- If the person commits assault as prescribed by section 13-1203, subsection A, paragraph 1 or 3 and the person is in violation of an order of protection issued against the person pursuant to section 13-3602 or 13-3624.
What are the penalties for Aggravated Assault in Arizona?
Video Transcript: Aggravated Assault Penalties in Arizona
In other videos, I’ve discussed the different types of conduct that is prohibited. So, things like, using a deadly weapon in assault, creating substantial disfigurement, fracturing somebody’s bones.
Committing an assault on a different protected class, like police officers, prosecutors, firefighters, code enforcement officers, judicial officers.
These type of things will cause somebody to be charged with Aggravated Assault. But there’s different penalties depending upon the conduct that you’re convicted of.
So, let’s run through the statute, again, it’s 13-1204. That’s where the Aggravated Assault Statute resides.
It’s a big kind of convoluted statute, they have different sections where they’re going to be indicating what the different penalties are, based upon the different conduct.
But I tried to summarize everything into this one whiteboard. Let’s run through it, so, first of all, there are special rules for police officers.
So, if a police officer is involved in the aggravated assault, their penalties are different than other people. And same with prosecutors, they wanna give these people special protections because they wanted to do that.
That’s the wisdom of our legislature. Police officers and prosecutors have special protection.
So, if there’s an assault and you’re convicted of this against a police officer, and you are using a deadly weapon or you cause a serious physical injury to a police officer, that’s going to be a Class 2 Felony.
You have to go to prison for that, for the presumptive term.
So, it’s very, very, serious. In other videos I explain what serious physical injury is. But it essentially is when somebody loses the function of something.
A limb, or they have substantial disfigurement, something that’s more permanent, it’s a serious physical injury.
Or using a deadly weapon again, Class 2 Felonies. If there is serious injuries but it’s more temporary, that’s a Class 3 Felony.
So, it’s not as serious, but somebody they have temporary disfigurement, temporary injury, bones are fractured, but they’ll heal.
That’s going to be a serious temporary injury, that’s going to be a Class 3 Felony. If the officer is just regularly injured, it’s a Class 4 Felony.
So, let’s say for example, an officer gets in a tussle and they’re scraped, they’re bruised, they’ve got some raspberries, or some injuries that they want to complain about, some strained muscles or whatever.
That’s going to be a Class 4 Felony. But if there’s just a regular assault and there’s some offensive contact with the officer, it’s going to be a Class 5 Felony.
So, really anything involving an officer is going to be a Felony. And you want to be very cautious about that. So, anything involving a peace officer has these special rules.
Same with a prosecutor, serious physical injury or a deadly weapon, those are again Class 2 Felonies. The same that we see up here with the peace officers.
If it’s a serious temporary injury, Class 3 Felony, same as up here. And if it’s just a regular injury, it’s a Class 5 Felony.
Everybody else falls into this bottom section here. So, serious physical injury or deadly weapon. And this includes if someone takes a weapon from a police officer, or they take a weapon from a security guard within a prison, or they use a simulated deadly weapon.
So, if they’re assaulting somebody with a simulated deadly weapon, these are all going to be Class 3 Felonies.
However, if the assault occurs against somebody who’s under the age of 15, it elevates it to a Class 2 Felony.
So, you can see it’s a little bit lower up here. So, for these two, the serious physical injury. For prosecutors and police officers are Class 2s.
But down here, they’re Class 3s. Unless the victim is under the age of 15, then it’s a Class 2. If there’s serious temporary injury or if there’s choking or the impediment of a person’s breathing or their blood circulation, those are all going to be Class 4 Felonies.
So, this is very common, you do see this a lot. As I said in other videos, somebody is choking somebody or there’s just contact with a person’s neck as a result of a fight, that’s going to be a Class 4 Felony.
Everything else, all the other conduct is going to be a Class 6 Felony. So, that includes if the victim is bound or restrained or they are limited in terms of their ability to fight back or to escape any of those things, it’s going to be a Class 6 Felony.
Same, if someone enters into a private home and commits an assault, Class 6 Felony. If the person is over the age of 18 or 18 and above, and the victim is under the age of 15, Class 6 Felony.
If there’s a violation of an order of protection.
So, if a court enters an order that says there’s not to be any conduct or any contact with this individual. There’s an individual who’s protected, and an assault occurs, that’s going to be a Class 6 Felony.
And finally, there’s a whole slew of other protected classes. I talked about this at length in a video.
Where we’re talking about firefighters, code enforcement officers, judicial officers, all sorts of other people who are in protected classes.
Not in the prosecutor class or the peace officer class but in other classes. Teachers, nurse practitioners, health practitioners, those types of people.
If there’s an assault that occurs against them, it’s going to be a Class 6 Felony. So, you can see here the statute, the penalties are kind of all over the place.
If you look up the statute, it’s a big block of text that just basically lists off a bunch of different numbers and then you have to go back and match the number to the penalty. It’s just kind of convoluted the way that it works.
But this is a good summary of how it works. Unless you fall into this category with prosecutors or police officers, and unless you have choked somebody or done something with their circulation, there’s no serious injury.
There wasn’t a deadly weapon involved and there’s no substantial temporary disfigurement or any of those things, it’s probably going to be a Class 6 Felony.
But of course, any felony is very serious. Aggravated Assault is a common charge, the police would really like to enforce it.
Especially in Arizona around Maricopa County, the Maricopa County Attorney’s office, they like to charge Aggravated Assaults in particular.
Anything against the police, any time an officer has minor injuries at all, it’s probably going to be a Class 4 Felony.
If an officer is involved in any assault, it’s going to be a Class 5 Felony. And the choking and the circulation around the neck, they charge that very frequently as well.
So, if you’ve been charged with Aggravated Assault, you want to talk to our team about how we can defend against this, give us a call.
We offer free case evaluations, we’ll sit down with you, we make sure we have a very solid understanding of what happened in your particular case.
So that we can begin strategizing and determining how we can best make sure that you’re not convicted of an Aggravated Assault.
Give our office a call, look forward to speaking with you soon.
Thanks for watching.
Whether that is jail or prison can depend a lot upon the type of Aggravated Assault you are being charged.
If you are charged Aggravated Assault due to serious physical injury or using a deadly weapon, that is classified as a Class 3 Felony.
Aggravated Assault that causes substantial disfigurement, or impedes the airway (also must be a Domestic Violence offense with impeding airway) is a Class 4 Felony.
Most the other Aggravated Assaults are Class 6 Felonies.
If you are convicted of Aggravated Assault on a police officer it is a Class 5 Felony, unless there was an injury and then it is a Class 4 Felony.
Aggravated Assault, Victims, and Other Protected People
Video Transcript: Aggravated Assault Victims and Protected People in Arizona
If that happens, then it goes from a regular assault into an aggravated assault.
And there’s a different list here of individuals who if the assault is committed upon them, just due to their profession, it will elevate it from a regular assault up into a felony aggravated assault.
So let’s do a quick refresh on what regular assault is. Regular assault is defined by 13-1203.
This is a misdemeanor assault. You can get it one of three ways. One, if you actually cause physical injury to somebody else.
So if you are being charged with assault and you actually, the facts are that you actually caused injury, there was contact, and somebody else was injured, that’s one way to get assault.
The second way you can get an assault, is if you put somebody in fear of imminent physical contact, or physical harm. It’s apprehension of imminent physical injury.
That’s a second way to get assault. So there may not actually be an injury, but a person who believes that an injury is going to be inflicted upon them, that is enough to charge you with assault.
Even if there was no contact. The final way that you can get it, if there is any contact between you and another individual, and it was made with intent to injure or harm them.
But there may not actually be a physical injury, just that touching with the intent to harm somebody, or the intent to injure, or to provoke them, that’s the third way you can get an assault.
These are all misdemeanor level assaults. If any of this conduct happens to a protected class, that’s defined in the statute 13-1204, it will elevate it from a misdemeanor assault, up into an aggravated assault.
Misdemeanor is the lower level, kind of more minor offenses, felonies are obviously very serious. So let’s run through what these protected classes are. The conduct doesn’t have to be any different.
In a different video I spoke about aggravated assault conduct.
Using a deadly weapon, causing injury that leads to substantial disfigurement, those types of things are different conduct that happens to an individual, but all you need for this portion of the statute is to do one of these three things to one of these types of people.
So the first is a peace officer. So this means police officers.
So if any of this stuff happens to a police officer or a peace officer, somebody who is charged with their duties are enforcing the law, same with a constable, if any of these things happen to a peace officer or a constable, somebody who’s enforcing the law, that makes it an aggravated assault.
It elevates it from a misdemeanor to a felony. Same with a firefighter, or anybody who’s kind of in that same field, a firefighter, a fire official, anybody who’s part of the firefighters department, if there’s any assault upon one of those individuals, that makes it aggravated.
Same with teachers, or nurses, or anybody who’s working at a school, anybody who’s sort of in the official capacity of a school.
Whether they’re a nurse, whether they’re a teacher, whether they’re an aide, anybody in that locale, principals, administrators, any of those things.
If an assault, one of these three things occurs on that individual, that’s going to aggravate it. Same with a healthcare practitioners.
So healthcare providers, if somebody commits an assault on them, even if it’s one of these three minor things, because they’re healthcare professionals, nurses, doctors, admin staff, anybody who’s in that field, that can be aggravated.
There is an exception on this rule that if somebody is seriously mentally ill, somebody has Alzheimer’s disease, or somebody is just mentally incapable of controlling their actions, this type of behavior is not covered by this statute.
There is an exception for that. The law recognizes that these people aren’t doing these things of their own volition, but they’ve got a serious mental illness, and so that’s not included.
So if somebody’s seriously mentally ill, then that’s not going to count. But otherwise if there’s an assault on a healthcare practitioner, that does count.
Same with prosecutors.
This is penalized very seriously, so if there’s an assault on a prosecutor, so anybody who’s working for the county attorney’s office, any city prosecutor, anybody who’s a licensed attorney whose job it is to prosecute people for crimes, if they are assaulted in any way, that’s going to be aggravated.
It has to be done within the official as a result of the official execution of their duties, or as a result of the execution of their duties.
So for example, if the prosecutor’s at a grocery store and somebody you know, assaults them, they get in an argument, and they’re assaulted, that’s very unlikely to be covered by this statute.
But if somebody is being charged by a prosecutor and that individual responds in court, or outside of court and assaults that prosecutor doing any one of these things, that’s going to be aggravated, and the penalty’s very severe.
Same with code enforcement officers.
So, you know, code enforcement officers are typically people who are driving around and making sure your grass is cut your trees are trimmed, or they are doing code enforcement by doing inspections and those types of things, so if they’re assaulted, they’re also protected.
Same with park rangers. Park rangers are pretty self-explanatory, it’s just another kind of sub category.
People who are enforcing camping zones, or at a state parks, or any of those things. Park rangers, if they’re assaulted, that will be aggravated.
Public defenders as well. Public defenders is kind of the opposite of the prosecutor.
A public defender is somebody who is appointed by the government who will help people when they are charged with crimes.
If somebody who’s charged with a crime assaults them, that’s going to be aggravated. It’s also again, same with the prosecutor. It needs to be while that person is engaged in their official duties.
This actually applies to all of them. So all of these people need to be engaged in their official duties, or in the execution of those duties, or as a result of those duties.
So they may not be at the office, the prosecutor may not be at the office at the time when they’re assaulted, but if they’re at the grocery store and somebody who they’re prosecuting is upset with them bumps into them, they get into an argument, there’s an assault, that’s a result of their official duty so that’s going to count.
And lastly, judicial officers. So anybody who’s involved in the courts, bailiffs, judicial assistants, stenographers, judges, anybody who’s involved in the court process.
Anybody from top to bottom, if they’re assaulted, that’s going to be aggravated, as well. So you can see here, there’s a whole number of different protected classes.
The conduct does not have to be egregious, it just needs to be a regular assault.
So just a simple touch, or simply kind of threatening somebody, or putting them in apprehension that there’s going to be an assault is enough to take a very very simple, very minor conduct, and turn it into a felony just because these different classes are protected.
So I hope this helps you understand a little bit more about how aggravated assault works in Arizona.
If you’ve been charged with aggravated assault, and you fall into one of these categories, our office offers free case evaluations.
We’re happy to sit down with you, make sure that you have a plan in place so that you’re not ending up convicted with a felony.
Give our office a call. We look forward to speaking with you, thanks for watching.
- A peace officer (cop) or a person summoned and directed by the officer. (This is one of the most common Aggravated Assaults we see as this gets charged many times there is any resistance when being arrested. This circumstance can quickly escalate to an Aggravated Assault charge).
- A constable or a person summoned and directed by the constable while engaged in the execution of any official duties or if the assault results from the execution of the constable’s official duties.
- A firefighter, fire investigator, fire inspector, emergency medical technician or paramedic engaged in the execution of any official duties or a person summoned and directed by such individual while engaged in the execution of any official duties or if the assault results from the execution of the official duties of the firefighter, fire investigator, fire inspector, emergency medical technician or paramedic.
- A teacher or other person employed by any school and the teacher or other employee is on the grounds of a school or grounds adjacent to the school or is in any part of a building or vehicle used for school purposes, any teacher or school nurse visiting a private home in the course of the teacher’s or nurse’s professional duties or any teacher engaged in any authorized and organized classroom activity held on other than school grounds.
- A health care practitioner who is certified or licensed pursuant to title 32, chapter 13, 15, 17 or 25, or a person summoned and directed by the licensed health care practitioner while engaged in the person’s professional duties. This subdivision does not apply if the person who commits the assault is seriously mentally ill, as defined in section 36-550, or is afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease or related dementia.
- A prosecutor while engaged in the execution of any official duties or if the assault results from the execution of the prosecutor’s official duties.
- A code enforcement officer as defined in section 39-123 while engaged in the execution of any official duties or if the assault results from the execution of the code enforcement officer’s official duties.
- A state or municipal park ranger while engaged in the execution of any official duties or if the assault results from the execution of the park ranger’s official duties.
- A public defender while engaged in the execution of any official duties or if the assault results from the execution of the public defender’s official duties.
- A judicial officer while engaged in the execution of any official duties or if the assault results from the execution of the judicial officer’s official duties.
Aggravated Assault can also occur if the person commits an assault by either intentionally, knowingly or recklessly causing any physical injury to another person, intentionally placing another person in reasonable apprehension of imminent physical injury or knowingly touching another person with the intent to injure the person, and both of the following occur:
- The person intentionally or knowingly impedes the normal breathing or circulation of blood of another person by applying pressure to the throat or neck or by obstructing the nose and mouth either manually or through the use of an instrument.
- Any of the circumstances exists that are set forth in A.R.S 13-3601, subsection A, paragraph 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 or 6.
- This is the Domestic Violence Statute. The applicable circumstances are:
- The relationship between the victim and the defendant is one of marriage or former marriage or of persons residing or having resided in the same household.
- The victim and the defendant have a child in common.
- The victim or the defendant is pregnant by the other party.
- The victim is related to the defendant or the defendant’s spouse by blood or court order as a parent, grandparent, child, grandchild, brother or sister or by marriage as a parent-in-law, grandparent-in-law, stepparent, step-grandparent, stepchild, step-grandchild, brother-in-law or sister-in-law.
- The victim is a child who resides or has resided in the same household as the defendant and is related by blood to a former spouse of the defendant or to a person who resides or who has resided in the same household as the defendant.
- The relationship between the victim and the defendant is currently or was previously a romantic or sexual relationship.
What is the most commonly charged type of Aggravated Assault?
Video Transcript: Aggravated Assault Choking or Throat Contact in Arizona
Typically it’s around the neck or by covering somebody’s mouth.
We see this quite often it’s one of the most common versions of aggravated assault that exists.
In other videos I explained the numerous different ways that a regular assault charge can be aggravated but this is one of the more common ways, so we’re going to run through the statute and explain exactly what it means.
This is in the same aggravated assault statute as all the others, it’s a very big long statute that’s kind of convoluted but it’s 13-1204.
As a reminder we need to review what assault is, so misdemeanor, low level, non-felony assault can happen in one of three ways.
One, there’s actual physical injury that occurs. So one person causes physical injuries to somebody else.
Number two there’s apprehension, that imminent physical injury is going to be occurring.
So, one person doesn’t actually injure somebody else, but they put that person in reasonable apprehension that there’s going to be physical injury.
That’s also assault even if there’s no touching. And finally if there is touching but there’s not actually injury.
And so if there’s touching with an intent to provoke or with an intent to injure or to kind of rile that person up, that can also reach assault.
So how do we aggravate this? So how do we take a regular assault and aggravate it up into a felony?
That can happen in the statute by choking somebody or by impeding their circulation, so let’s look at what that statute says.
So it says that first of all a person must either and do this intentionally or knowingly.
So this can’t be done through an accident.
A person actually has to physically make a concerted effort or take a volitional act to move forward with the rest of the conduct.
It has to be done intentionally or knowingly. They need to impede a person’s normal breathing or the circulation of their blood.
So this means that a person’s normal function, their respiratory function or their circulatory function of their blood needs to be impaired, it needs to be impeded in some way.
And that can happen by applying pressure to the throat or the neck or by obstructing the nose and the mouth.
So typically we’ll see what happens in these cases, an individual or a couple will get into a fight and there will be some physical interaction between the two of them, and somebody’s hand may go around somebody’s neck, either in a defensive posture so somebody will be lunging at them and they’ll put their hands up and it will capture the person’s neck. Sometimes things can be more aggressive.
Sometimes somebody is actually grabbing somebody by their neck or somebody is covering somebody’s mouth, somebody’s screaming and they’re covering their mouth and their nose or they’re using a pillow or they’re using some clothes or something along those lines, to actually impede a person’s breathing.
So either their neck is cut off, the circulation through the neck is cut off or their breathing is cut off through the neck or something either a hand or an object is placed over their mouth and their nose, so that their breathing is impeded.
The law specifically penalizes this quite seriously.
It actually turns this into a class four felony. So it’s not just a regular misdemeanor assault, it’s just a simple physical altercation, can become an aggravated class four felony, just by having some contact around the neck.
So the police will often show up when there’s been indications of a domestic dispute or something, where they will take pictures of the neck, they’ll look for redness, they’ll look for scratch marks, they’ll look for any indication that there’s been something going on around the neck or around the mouth.
And they’ll take pictures of that and they’ll document it into evidence and then more likely than not you’re going to be charged with aggravated assault. Also important to note, this does require a domestic relationship, so this will occur when there’s a romantic or a sexual relationship or a couple has a child in common or people are related by blood, so brothers or a father and a son.
If any of those things happen, it’s a domestic relationship that’s part of the elements. So if this happens in a bar, that’s not going to be an aggravated assault because it’s not a domestic relationship, unless there’s some other reason for it to be aggravated.
But just simple contact around the neck is not going to be enough, they have to have some sort of domestic relationship in order for this to occur.
So it’s important to understand that this is a serious charge, it’s a class four felony as a reminder, class six is the lowest level of felony that we have in Arizona, class two is the highest, so a class four is kind of right there in the middle.
It’s an aggravated assault charge, there’s a lot that we can do to help people through this process of course.
These things happen with kind of spur of the moment. These things are usually kind of involved in a passionate argument, a dispute.
A lot of the times, the people who are involved do not want to move forward with these type of charges and so you can begin working these cases down, so that you’re not ending up convicted of a felony for aggravated assault, which is obviously quite serious.
So, if you’ve been charged with aggravated assault, it involves a neck or a throat or a circulatory issue, give our office a call we offer free case evaluations, we’ll have you come in, we’ll sit down, we’ll make sure we can review the facts of your case, get an idea of the bigger picture.
Make sure we have a plan in place to give you the best defense possible, so that you’re not convicted of an aggravated assault felony.
Give us a call, look forward to speaking with you soon.
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- Causing serious physical injury
- Using a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument
- The assault causes a substantial disfigurement or fracture
- The “victim” is a police officer
- The assault was a domestic violence offense and involved choking the victim
Aggravated Assault can come in many other terms, but these are the most commonly charged that our team sees.
What does “causing serious physical injury” mean in Aggravated Assault cases?
Serious physical injury is defined as including physical injury that creates a reasonable risk of death, or that causes serious and permanent disfigurement, serious impairment of health or loss or protracted impairment of the function of any bodily organ or limb.
What is considered a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument?
A deadly weapon is defined as anything designed for lethal use, including a firearm. These are usually pretty straightforward – guns, knives, and swords.
Dangerous instruments can be a bit trickier. This is defined as anything that under the circumstances in which it is used, attempted to be used or threatened to be used is readily capable of causing death or serious physical injury.
Dangerous instruments can include a baseball bat, a vehicle, golf clubs, a tire iron, etc.
When you think of a dangerous instrument it is usually very circumstantial in how the item is used during the assault. For example, a pen would not be considered a dangerous instrument.
But if I used that pen to stab you, then it could be argued that the circumstances in which the pen was used was capable of causing death or serious physical injury.
There was only one altercation but I got charged with multiple counts of Aggravated Assault, why?
Often times there can be crossover between the sections.
County Attorneys will routinely charge multiple sections stemming from the same act.
For instance, if you are alleged to have stabbed someone with a knife.
The knife could have caused serious physical injury, which is an Aggravated Assault. The knife would be considered a deadly or dangerous instrument, which is a different Aggravated Assault.
Lastly, it is likely that a knife would could be considered to have caused a substantial disfigurement, which is yet another classification under Aggravated Assault.
You can also be charged for multiple victims that stem from one event.
An example of this is when a gun is brandished at a group of people. If you are alleged to have pointed a gun at a victim, that would be an Aggravated Assault.
This is because the victim is placed in reasonable apprehension of immediate and substantial risk of serious physical injury or death.
Even the other members of the group that did not get a gun pointed directly at them could be considered victims if they were places in the same reasonable apprehension of imminent harm.
urther, the gun would be considered a dangerous instrument so you could get charged twice for each victim. This is how a bad situation can turn really bad for you in the courtroom.
What are some defenses to Aggravated Assault in Arizona?
Video Transcript: Defenses to Aggravated Assault Charges in Arizona
As a quick refresher, let’s remember aggravated assault is the regular misdemeanor assault plus an aggravating factor.
So most assault cases are misdemeanors, they’re low level misdemeanors or Class 1 misdemeanors, and they occur in one of three ways.
One, person A causes an injury to person B. So there is an actual contact and there’s an actual injury.
The second way you get it is if person A puts person B in reasonable apprehension of imminent harmful contact.
So that means that person A is basically scaring person B, and person B reasonably believes that they’re going to be harmed. You can be charged with assault for that even though there’s no contact.
And the third way you get it is when person A touches person B, and there’s some sort of offensive contact or that contact is meant to injure or to provoke that person but there may not be an actual substantial injury, there may not be any injury at all, it’s just a touch.
So those are the three ways that you get assault.
Then that regular assault can be aggravated. So it can turn into a felony if something happens.
So let’s say for example A has some injury to B, there’s contact and A injures B, but that injury is very substantial, so B has very serious injuries, it’s going to aggravate it, or if B happens to be a police officer, that’s going to aggravate it because police officers are a protected class.
Those are the different ways that it’s aggravated.
So when we start talking about defenses, we want to defend against the aggravators, but we also want to defend against the underlying assault itself, so how do we do that?
The first way that you do that is by showing that A was not the cause of the assault to B. So A did not actually caused any injury, A was not responsible for the touch, A didn’t actually put B in any reasonable apprehension of any harmful imminent contact.
The way that you do that is by showing that something else was responsible for that.
So A didn’t do it, C did it. C was the one who actually caused the injury, there was a big scuffle, the police just happened to charge A because A was in the wrong place at the wrong time, but A wasn’t responsible for it, C actually did it or C bumped into A who bumped into B. So there’s a chain there that happens and you can show that A wasn’t the cause of it.
If A didn’t cause the injury or A didn’t cause the touch, then A can’t be legally held responsible for it, so you want to attack causation.
The way that this happens a lot also is B may be responsible for their own injuries. B may have been drinking too much or been on drugs or had a mental breakdown or slipped and fell.
Something happened and B caused their own injuries but B wants to blame A because B is vindictive or B had a bad relationship with A or any number of reasons why, but B was responsible for the injuries and so we can’t pin that back on A.
It’s called causation and it’s very important in a criminal case. You want to make sure that you start defending against that.
If there’s any way to create doubt about how B sustained their injuries or B’s situation in general, you want to make sure that you’re looking into that and doing your investigation thoroughly there.
The next way that we can do this is by focusing on what’s called self-defense. So let’s say for example A and B get into an argument, A is being pretty reserved, B has a mental breakdown, B gets very upset, B is somebody who snaps, and B starts to attack A.
A may be bigger or stronger, and by responding to the physicality of B, B gets injured. So it’s self-defense because A was not the initial aggressor.
A didn’t start the fight, A didn’t do anything to instigate the fight, but A was just responding back to B’s provocations, and so it’s called self-defense.
It’s a defense that you can use if you’ve been charged with assault or aggravated assault. We see this a lot in situations involving a man and a woman.
Unfortunately in our society, in our culture, if there’s an altercation between a man and a woman, in my experience, in our law firm’s experience, most of the time the male is going to be the one arrested and charged. It’s just how it works.
When the police show up, if there’s any dispute at all, the male is almost always arrested, the female is almost always deemed to be the victim.
And so this can happen when even if B, the victim, is the initial aggressor, and A responds back to that individual, may cause injury, may cause a situation where it escalates into aggravated assault, but that doesn’t mean that the self-defense argument goes out the window.
Another defense is to make the argument that in a certain situation in assault when a person is placed in apprehension of imminent harmful contact, so there may not be actual any physical contact between two people, but the person who has claimed to be in fear, so let’s say B in this situation, it was unreasonable of them to be fearful.
This is called the reasonable person standard. You can’t be afraid of anything, you have to be afraid of what is reasonable.
And so if you can make the argument that there was no conduct by A that should have reasonably put B in a position of fear, of being afraid of any harmful imminent contact, then that element of the underlying assault is not met, and the aggravators aren’t going to be applicable.
They have to prove the underlying assault first before they can move up to the aggravators. So here we’re just simply attacking the underlying assault.
Also you can be charged with aggravated assault, a lot of the aggravators are when there is a protected class.
So in other videos I talk about that. But police officers, prosecutors, health practitioners, firefighters, doctors, teachers, all of these people are in protected classes, and so if there’s an assault that occurs against one of these individuals, it’s going to be aggravated.
The way that you can get around this is you have to make the argument that the person who has alleged to have committed the assault didn’t know about that person’s status, they didn’t know that they were a police officer, they didn’t know that they were a prosecutor, and there’s no evidence to show that that person who is a police officer or a firefighter or anybody in those classes was acting in their official duties, acting in their official capacity, and that the assault was not related to their duties whatsoever.
That would attack the aggravator there.
And so these are the kind of the general ways that you want to attack any of the assault charges.
You do this by going through a very fact intensive analysis. What do we do in these cases?
How do we gather evidence to make those arguments?
Where do we look for these things generally speaking? We want witness statements. So who was around?
If this happened at a bar, we want to make sure that we can get names of people who were around, get their statements, schedule them for interview so we can see what their opinion was.
It may go to causation, it may show that if there was an injury that happened to a police officer that this was a big commotion, we had no idea that the officer was acting in their official capacity or that they were even an officer.
So it’s attacking the knowledge about whether that person was in the protected class or not.
We want to gather statements, we want to piece together the whole thing, because a lot of these things happen very quickly, and they’re hard to make a determination of what actually happened without further investigation.
Same with neighbors or people who were in apartments next door, we want to get their statements.
We want 911 calls for the same purpose.
We want to see what happened on the 911 call, we can begin piecing that part together, we want to interview everybody who’s involved, all the police officers, any of the medical professionals, anybody except the victim we can interview.
It’s part of the discovery process. Surveillance cameras, body camera footage, dash cam footage, jail footage, we want to look at statements, we want to see what other people saw, if anybody was recording any of this stuff on cellphones, and this stuff was impounded, we have a right to get it, we have a right to review it, it’s an important part of an assault case. Same with medical reports.
So a lot of these assault cases will occur with serious injuries or there’ll be some red marks on somebody’s neck, somebody will be in the hospital, we want to see what the doctors have to say about that.
What caused the injury?
Is there an alternative explanation for it?
Does it match the police report?
Does it match the elements of the assault case?
And we want expert witnesses to be involved, so there may be an alternative explanation for a lot of this stuff.
We may be able to reconstruct what actually happened inside of an apartment or inside a house, and show that this was not caused by our client, this was caused by the person themselves from slipping, from falling, or from doing something on their own that caused their own injuries.
So as you can see this is just a very topical, basic explanation of some of the defenses that are available in aggravated assault cases.
If you’ve been charged with aggravated assault, want to speak with our office, give us a call, we offer free case evaluations, and we look forward to speaking with you soon.
Thanks for watching.
Remember, that aggravated assault is a regular assault charge plus an aggravating factor.
If there is a way to show that there was no assault, the aggravating factor becomes irrelevant.
One way to challenge the underlying assault charge is to challenge what is known as “causation”, an important concept in criminal law.
Causation is what connects the person who is being charged with the crime to the injury caused to the alleged victim.
In an assault case, it is necessary to show that the person being charged with the crime is the cause of the injury, the apprehension or the offensive contact.
If you can show that there was another cause of the injury, such as the alleged victim being drunk or acting in a fit of rage such that they caused the injuries to themselves.
Similarly, in some circumstances the wrong person is claimed to be the wrong-doer. We see this type of situation arise in crowded spaces, such as bars or sporting events.
In these cases, the police may mistake one person as being the cause of the assault when in reality another person at the scene was responsible for the contact or the injury.
If the person who is being charged with the crime cannot be proven beyond a reasonable doubt to be the actual cause of the assault, there can be no successful prosecution of the case.
Another important defense to consider in an Aggravated Assault case is whether the person being charged acted out of self-defense.
In many situations, the person who was injured was the actual aggressor under the circumstances. In reality, the person who charged was only responding to protect themselves from an attack or an assault.
Legally, self-defense works by acknowledging that there was an injury or contact, but that it was necessary to ensure self-preservation and protection.
This type of defense needs to be investigated at the outset of the case in order to properly prepare for its use through the process and at a trial, if necessary.
In some aggravated assault cases, there is no or little actual contact but there is a fear or apprehension that is created in the person claimed to be the victim.
It is important to understand that this apprehension needs to be reasonable under the circumstances. If you can show that their apprehension was unreasonable, the elements of the underlying assault are not met and it cannot be aggravated.
This is a fact intensive analysis, and requires gathering as much evidence as possible. What is “reasonable” often includes looking at surrounding facts and witness statements.
Lack of Knowledge of Status
A very common aggravated assault charge is when an assault occurs on a person who is protected by the statute, most often the police.
If an assault occurs on a police or law enforcement officer, it will be considered to be aggravated.
In some situations, a person who is charged with aggravated assault may not know of the victim’s protected status or that the alleged victim was operating within the confines of their profession.
If you can show that there was no actual knowledge of a person’s profession or protected status or the person charged with a crime had no reason to know they were acting in some official capacity, there is good argument that they were not acting in violation of the statute. The statute says there should be some knowledge of that status.
So for example, if a person gets into an argument with an off-duty police officer over a parking space and an assault occurs, that would not likely be covered by the statute because the person who allegedly committed the assault did not know they were a police officer and they were not acting in their official capacity. The same type of situation would apply to other professions like doctors, teachers, firefighters, etc.
In all aggravated assault defenses, it is important to do a thorough investigation into all aspects of the case, in a process called discovery.
Be sure to obtain records regarding witness statements, 911 calls, conduct all interviews, get all surveillance footage, review all medical records and consult with expert witnesses to review this material and reconstruct what actually happened.
Aggravated Assault Lawyer Arizona
Aggravated assault is a serious offense and requires an extensive review of all the material in the government’s file.
If you would like to speak with our team and schedule a free case evaluation, please call our office today.