In Arizona, “assault” is defined as knowingly, intentionally, or recklessly either causing physical injury to another or placing them in reasonable danger of physical injury. It also includes touching a person with intention of injuring, insulting, or provoking them. Aggravated assault charges are leveled when the intentions or results are more serious.
A person in Arizona can be charged with aggravated assault if he or she uses a deadly weapon in their attack. If the person he or she attacks is restrained, or the victim’s capacity to defend him or herself is impaired in any way, this is considered aggravated assault. Aggravated assault may result in temporary disfigurement or impairment to the use of any body part. The assailant is committing aggravated assault if they attack someone by entering a private home with the intention of causing physical harm. If an adult (over 18 years old) commits assault on a minor under 15, this too, is aggravated assault.
Arizona has no particular law for vehicular manslaughter. Instead, the state prosecutes these cases under aggravated assault charges. Vehicular aggravated assault typically occurs when a driver is impaired by drugs or alcohol. Charges of vehicular aggravated assault can be leveled against drivers who are considered to have knowingly, intentionally, or recklessly caused injury. A vehicle is considered the deadly weapon in aggravated assault cases.
Vehicular aggravated assault is typically charged when a driver is deemed reckless. Reckless driving involves a disregard for the safety of people and property. Reckless driving in itself is only a class 2 misdemeanor, if it’s a first offense, which carries a minimum sentence of 4 months behind bars. Drivers found guilty of reckless driving typically must surrender their licenses. Penalties grow in severity if the driver committed another reckless driving, driving under the influence, or similar offense in the 2 years before the current arrest.
Reckless driving is mostly about risk, and includes possible property damage. Vehicular aggravated assault charges relate only to injury, and the guessing is out of the equation; someone has been injured or killed, not just determined to be at risk of injury or death. Charges can vary depending on a number of factors. If a police officer, a firefighter, a teacher on school grounds, a park ranger, a public defender, or a prosecutor is affected by the incident, the likelihood of being charged with vehicular aggravated assault goes up. The specific felony the driver can be charged with also becomes more serious depending on the identity of the victim.
Class 5 felony charges are the most lenient that can come from vehicular aggravated assault convictions. A class 5 felony carries a minimum sentence of 9 months. Vehicular aggravated assault can result in a class 2 felony depending on the victim, the severity of the injury, the driver’s impairment, and other factors. This carries a minimum prison sentence of 4 years.
DUI charges can add to the severity of vehicular aggravated assault penalties. It is against the law in Arizona to drive or be in control of a vehicle while influenced by alcohol, drugs, a vapor releasing substance, or any combination of the three. A blood alcohol content of .08% within two hours of driving a vehicle is illegal. Though DUI accidents are not considered premeditated, it is still possible to be charged with vehicular aggravated assault for deciding to drive while under the influence.
Vehicular aggravated assault is a serious charge in Arizona. The nature of the crime means it usually comes with other penalties as well, such as DUI and reckless driving. If you are faced with any charges related to vehicular aggravated assault, contact the Stewart Law Group to set up a FREE case evaluation and prepare for the road ahead.