Aggravated assault is defined as “attack by one person upon another for the purpose of inflicting severe aggravated bodily injury.” Aggravated assault usually includes the use of a weapon, or anything likely to result in death or serious bodily harm. It is considered an elevated form of misdemeanor assault.
There were 15,981 aggravated assaults reported in Arizona during 2013, which led to a total of 7,217 arrests. Physical weapons, which include hands, fists and feet, were the most common weapon used, and accounted for 30% of the arrests. Firearms were used in 24.1% of reported assaults; knives made up 16.6%.
Aggravated assault was the most common violent crime reported in Arizona last year; it made up 64.9% of all reported violent crimes.
Aggravated assault not only details what weapons are used in the assault, but who is involved in the altercation. An assault that takes place during a home invasion is automatically considered an aggravated assault, for example, as is any assault that takes place between a person over the age of eighteen and a person under fifteen years of age. If the victim is being restrained during the attack, this too counts as an “aggravation.”
Attempting to interfere with a protected-class professional who is attempting to act in their official capacity, such as a firefighter, nurse, police officer, constable, prison guard, or health professional is considered aggravated assault, even if the altercation does not necessarily result in an injury. Those who commit assault while incarcerated are more likely to be charged with aggravated assault as well.
When prosecuting an aggravated assault case, the State must prove every aspect of the crime. These are called the “elements” of the crime, and include the act of assault itself, plus any elements that elevated the assault to “aggravated” status.
The State must prove that an attack was intentionally threatened, that the threat caused the victim legitimate fear, or that an attack was attempted or completed. Then, the State must prove the presence of a deadly weapon, such as a knife or gun, and prove that the defendant concealed their identity, or inflicted a serious injury. The burden is also on the State to prove that the victim was a member of a protected class, such as a police officer.
A defendant may claim mistaken identity (“it wasn’t me”) or self-defense in the event of an aggravated assault charge. Other defenses include determining that the victim had possession of the weapon in question (which may reduce the charge to simple assault, if the elevating elements can be disproved).
Any aggravated assault with a weapon carries a mandatory prison sentence in Arizona.
Both a person’s criminal history and the circumstances of the crime impact the length of the sentence. A first offender may face between 5 and 15 years in prison.
A second conviction can increase the sentence to as much as 10 to 20 years in prison, and a third conviction can measure between 15 and 25 years.
While jail time is nearly guaranteed in the event of a conviction, there is great flexibility in the length of the sentence. A knowledgeable, confident attorney at the Stewart Law Group will fight to ensure you receive shortest prison sentence allowed by law. Call our offices today for a FREE case evaluation.