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If you are facing an aggravated assault charge in Arizona, you are possibly looking at a long prison sentence and significant consequences for your future.

An aggravated assault charge can be brought against an individual if they are suspected of causing serious injury or harm to another person, either intentionally or recklessly.

When you find yourself in this difficult situation, it is important to seek the guidance of an experienced assault attorney who can help fight for your rights and defend your case.

At the Law Office of Daniel Hutto, we understand the complexities of Arizona’s assault laws and are here to provide you with a strong defense. We offer a free consultation to discuss your case and determine the best course of action to potentially reduce or dismiss the charges you may be facing. 

Here’s what this article will cover:

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How Does Arizona Law Define Aggravated Assault 

Arizona law defines aggravated assault as a more serious form of assault that occurs under certain aggravating circumstances which elevate the severity of the offense beyond simple assault.

According to the Arizona Revised Statutes (ARS) 13-1204, an assault is categorized as aggravated if it involves any of the following conditions:

  • Serious Physical Injury: The assault results in serious physical injury to another person. Serious physical injury can include injuries that create a reasonable risk of death, or that cause serious and permanent disfigurement, or significant impairment of any body organ or limb.
  • Use of a Deadly Weapon or Dangerous Instrument: The perpetrator commits the assault while using a deadly weapon or a dangerous instrument. In Arizona law, a “deadly weapon” is anything designed for lethal use, including firearms, while a “dangerous instrument” is 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.
  • Victim Status: The assault is committed against certain protected classes of victims including, but not limited to, police officers, firefighters, teachers, health care providers, public defenders, and other individuals whose roles involve a significant degree of public trust or safety.
  • Commission of Other Felonies: The assault occurs in the course of, and in furtherance of, the commission or attempted commission of any felony.
  • Victim Restrained or Capacity to Resist Impaired: The perpetrator commits the assault knowing the person is bound, restrained, or otherwise in a position where their capacity to resist is substantially impaired.
  • Entering a Private Home: The assault is committed after the perpetrator enters the private home of another with the intent to commit the assault.

These factors are designed to recognize and penalize the increased risk and potential harm associated with more dangerous forms of assault.

The law specifically addresses situations where the power dynamics are skewed significantly due to the vulnerability of the victim or the enhanced capability for harm provided by weapons or other tools.

man committing assault with a deadly weapon

What is Considered a Deadly Weapon/ Dangerous Instrument 

In Arizona law, the classification of an object as a “deadly weapon” or “dangerous instrument” significantly influences the severity of aggravated assault charges under ARS 13-105. Understanding these terms is essential for legal practitioners and defendants alike.

Deadly Weapon:

 Defined as any object designed for lethal use, primarily intended to inflict serious physical injury or death. Common examples include firearms, knives with blades over a certain length, and other traditional weapons.

Dangerous Instrument:

Defined more broadly as any object that, in the context it was used, attempted to be used, or threatened to be used, could readily cause death or serious physical injury. This includes items not inherently designed as weapons, such as rocks, bottles, or even vehicles, depending on their use in a particular incident.

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Penalties for An Aggravated Assault Charge 

In Arizona, the penalties for aggravated assault are severe and vary significantly based on the specific circumstances of the case, including the nature of the assault, the victim’s identity, and the perpetrator’s criminal history.

Aggravated assault is a felony offense and is categorized into different classes with corresponding penalties under the Arizona Revised Statutes (ARS) 13-1204. Here’s a breakdown of the potential legal consequences:

  • Class 2 Felony: This is typically the charge when the assault involves serious physical injury or the use of a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument. The penalties can range from 5 to 12.5 years in prison for a first-time offender. However, if the defendant has prior convictions, this range can increase significantly, up to 35 years.
  • Class 3 Felony: If the assault is committed against an individual who is 15 years old or younger, it is classified as a Class 3 felony, carrying between 2.5 and 7 years in prison for a first-time offender.
  • Class 4, 5, and 6 Felonies: These classes apply if the assault involves less severe aggravating factors. The penalties can vary:
    • Class 4 felonies result in 1.5 to 3 years of incarceration.
    • Class 5 felonies are punishable by 0.75 to 2 years in prison.
    • Class 6 felonies, being the least severe, can lead to 0.5 to 1.5 years in prison.

Additional Legal Consequences

Besides imprisonment, individuals convicted of aggravated assault may face additional penalties:

  • Fines: Fines can reach up to $150,000 plus additional surcharges.
  • Probation: Depending on the circumstances, the court may impose a period of probation.
  • Restitution: Compensatory payments to the victim for medical expenses or property damage are common.
  • Loss of Rights: Convictions can lead to the loss of civil rights, including voting and firearm ownership.
  • Community Service and Anger Management Programs: These may also be part of the sentence to help rehabilitate the offender.

Enhanced Sentences

Certain factors can enhance the severity of the sentence:

  • Presence of a Weapon: The use of a firearm or knife typically increases the minimum prison time.
  • Victim’s Status: Assaults against protected classes (e.g., police officers, teachers) can lead to harsher penalties.
  • Repeat Offenses: Previous convictions, especially for violent crimes, significantly increase sentencing severity.

Understanding the penalties associated with aggravated assault charges in Arizona is crucial for defendants to grasp the seriousness of their legal situation and for victims to understand their rights under the law. Both parties are advised to consult with knowledgeable legal professionals who can provide guidance tailored to the specifics of their case.

protected individuals under Arizona law

How Does Victim Status Impact a Charge? 

Certain victims are considered protected under the law, which can lead to more severe penalties for assaults against them. These protected classes typically include law enforcement officers, firefighters, teachers, healthcare providers, and other public servants performing their duties.

For instance, an assault against a police officer is automatically treated as a Class 2 felony.

Additionally, assaults against individuals who are 15 years old or younger can elevate the charge to a Class 3 felony, regardless of whether a weapon was used.

The rationale behind these distinctions is to offer greater protection to those who are either in vulnerable positions or provide critical community functions.

Possible Defenses if Charged with Aggravated Assault In Arizona 

When facing an aggravated assault charge in Arizona, several defense strategies can be employed depending on the circumstances surrounding the case. These defenses are used for potentially mitigating the charges or even achieving a full acquittal.

Self-Defense

One of the most common defenses to an aggravated assault charge is self-defense. Under Arizona law, an individual is entitled to use reasonable force to protect themselves from imminent physical harm. This defense involves proving that the accused believed that force was necessary to prevent their own injury or death, and that the amount of force used was reasonable under the circumstances. Key factors include the perceived threat, the relationship between the parties, and any previous incidents of violence.

Defense of Others

Similar to self-defense, the defense of others doctrine allows an individual to use force when they reasonably believe that it is necessary to protect another person from immediate harm. This defense can be applied when the accused was acting to protect a third party, typically requiring evidence that the third party was under threat of serious physical injury or death.

Lack of Intent

Aggravated assault charges often depend on the intent to cause fear of physical harm or actual physical harm. Arguing that the accused did not have this intent can be a viable defense, particularly in cases where the incident was an accident or a misunderstanding. This defense might involve demonstrating that the actions attributed to the accused were not intended to cause harm or fear.

Insufficient Evidence

Challenging the sufficiency of the prosecution’s evidence is a fundamental defense strategy. The defense can argue that the evidence presented does not meet the standard of proof required for a conviction, which is beyond a reasonable doubt. This could involve highlighting inconsistencies in witness testimonies, proving alibis, or questioning the reliability of collected evidence.

Mistaken Identity

In some cases, the defendant may be wrongfully accused due to mistaken identity. This defense involves proving that the accused was not the person who committed the alleged assault. Evidence such as alibis, surveillance footage, or eyewitness testimony can support this defense.

Contact a Criminal Defense Attorney

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If you are facing an aggravated assault charge in Arizona, reach out to Daniel Hutto and his team at the Law Office of Daniel Hutto.

With extensive experience in Arizona’s criminal justice system, they understand the complexities of aggravated assault cases and can develop a defense strategy suited to your situation.

Contact the Law Office of Daniel Hutto at 602 536-7878. to schedule a consultation and ensure that your rights are defended throughout the legal process.

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