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Aggravated assault with a deadly weapon is a serious and heavily penalized offense in Arizona, reflecting the severity with which the law views acts of violence that pose a significant threat to public safety.

This crime involves attacking or threatening another person with a weapon or object that could cause death or serious bodily injury, elevating the legal consequences beyond those of simple assault.

Understanding the legal statutes, potential penalties, and defense strategies is important for anyone facing such charges. The penalties for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon can vary widely, depending on several factors, including the circumstances of the assault, the defendant’s criminal history, and the severity of any injuries caused.

Here’s what this article will cover:

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aggravated assault factors

What is Aggravated Assault 

Aggravated assault, under ARS §13-1204, is a step beyond simple assault, incorporating factors that increase the severity of the charge.

These factors include the use of a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument, inflicting serious physical injury, and assault under certain specific circumstances, such as against a minor or law enforcement officer.

examples of deadly weapons

What is Considered a Deadly Weapon 

In Arizona, the legal definition of a “deadly weapon” encompasses a broad range of items beyond the obvious guns and knives. According to Arizona Revised Statutes (ARS) §13-105, a deadly weapon is anything designed for lethal use, including firearms.

The law, however, extends this definition to include any object that, in the way it is used or intended to be used, is capable of causing death or serious physical injury.

This broad categorization is crucial for understanding the legal implications of aggravated assault charges involving different objects.

  • Firearms: Any type of gun, including handguns, rifles, and shotguns.
  • Knives: This includes not only traditional knives but also daggers, switchblades, and other sharp instruments.
  • Explosives: Dynamite, bombs, and other explosive devices capable of causing widespread damage.
  • Motor Vehicles: Cars, trucks, or any vehicle used in a manner to intentionally harm others.
  • Blunt Instruments: Clubs, bats, or any heavy object that could be used to inflict serious injury.
  • Chemical Substances: Acids or other harmful chemicals used with the intent to injure or kill.

This list is not exhaustive, as the classification of an object as a “deadly weapon” can depend significantly on the context of its use. For instance, a piece of rope or a pen, under certain circumstances, could be considered deadly weapons if they are used in a manner that could or does cause serious physical injury or death. 

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Penalties for Assault with a Deadly Weapon 

In Arizona, the penalties for assault with a deadly weapon are severe and reflect the state’s commitment to public safety and the seriousness with which it views violent crimes. Assault with a deadly weapon is typically charged as aggravated assault under Arizona Revised Statutes (ARS) §13-1204, which outlines a range of felony classifications depending on the specifics of the offense. The classification of the felony and the associated penalties depend on several factors, including the severity of the victim’s injuries, the defendant’s intent, and the defendant’s criminal history.

The penalties for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon can include:

  • Prison Sentences: The range of prison sentences can vary widely. For a Class 3 felony, which is a common charge for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon without premeditated intent to cause serious injury, the sentence can range from 5 to 15 years. For a Class 2 felony, applicable in cases involving more severe circumstances or intent, the range increases to 7 to 21 years. These ranges can increase significantly if the defendant has prior convictions.
  • Fines and Restitution: Convictions may also result in substantial fines, potentially up to $150,000 for individuals, and additional restitution payments to the victim(s) to cover medical bills, lost wages, and other damages resulting from the assault.
  • Probation: In some cases, a judge may sentence an individual to probation instead of, or in addition to, prison time. Probation terms can be strict, often requiring regular check-ins with a probation officer, mandatory counseling, and community service.
  • Loss of Rights: A felony conviction leads to the loss of certain civil rights, such as the right to possess firearms, the right to vote, and the eligibility for certain professional licenses and employment opportunities.

assault defense attorney arguing for his clients

What are Defenses to an Aggravated Assault Charge 

Facing an aggravated assault charge in Arizona, particularly one involving a deadly weapon as outlined in Arizona Revised Statutes (ARS) §13-1204, demands a strong defense strategy. 

These defenses are crucial for challenging the prosecution’s case, potentially leading to a dismissal of charges or acquittal.


Self-defense is a primary defense against aggravated assault charges, asserting that the defendant used force to protect themselves from immediate harm. Key elements include:

  • Immediacy of the threat.
  • Reasonableness of the fear of harm.
  • Proportionality of the force used in response.

Defense of Others

This defense mirrors self-defense, justifying the defendant’s actions as necessary to prevent harm to another person. It hinges on the defendant’s reasonable belief in the necessity of their intervention to protect someone else from imminent danger.

Lack of Intent

Aggravated assault requires intent to harm or intimidate. Arguing a lack of intent focuses on demonstrating that the defendant did not have the specific intent needed for conviction, due to misinterpretation, miscommunication, or unawareness of the situation’s gravity.

Insufficient Evidence

Challenging the sufficiency of the prosecution’s evidence can be a strong defense. This may involve questioning the credibility of witnesses, the legality and relevance of the evidence, and the interpretation of the defendant’s actions, aiming to prove that the evidence does not meet the required burden of proof for conviction.

Mistake of Fact

This defense is applicable when the defendant acted under a false belief that, if true, would justify or excuse their actions. Unlike a mistake of law, a mistake of fact can negate an essential element of the offense, such as intent.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is considered assault with a deadly weapon?
Assault with a deadly weapon is a criminal charge applied when an individual commits an assault using a weapon or object that could cause great bodily injury or death. This can include firearms, knives, or any item used in a manner that could be deemed lethal.

Is assault with a deadly weapon a misdemeanor or a felony?
Assault with a deadly weapon is typically charged as a felony offense, given its potential to cause serious harm. However, under certain circumstances and depending on the jurisdiction’s penal code, it might be charged as a misdemeanor, especially if the bodily injury inflicted or intended was less severe.

How much jail time can you get for assault with a deadly weapon?
The jail time for assault with a deadly weapon varies significantly based on the severity of the bodily injury caused, the type of weapon used, and the defendant’s criminal history. Felony assault with a deadly weapon can lead to several years in state prison, while misdemeanor cases may result in up to a year in county jail.

Can a law firm help if I’m charged with assault using a deadly weapon?
Yes, a law firm specializing in criminal defense can provide crucial assistance if you’re charged with assault. Experienced attorneys can evaluate the evidence, develop a strong defense strategy, and advocate on your behalf, aiming to reduce the charges or seek acquittal.

What defenses are available for a charge of assault with a deadly weapon?
Defenses to a charge of assault with a deadly weapon may include self-defense, defense of others, lack of intent to commit great bodily injury, or arguing that the object used does not qualify as a deadly weapon under the legal definition. Each case requires a detailed analysis to identify the most viable defense strategy.

What impact does the type of weapon have on an assault charge?
The type of weapon used can significantly impact the severity of the charge and the potential penalties. Weapons explicitly designed or used in a way that is likely to cause death or great bodily injury tend to result in more severe charges, such as felony assault with a deadly weapon.

Can an assault with a deadly weapon charge be reduced to a misdemeanor?
In some cases, it may be possible to reduce a felony assault with a deadly weapon charge to a misdemeanor, especially if the injury caused was minor, the weapon was not inherently lethal, or if there are mitigating circumstances. This often requires skilled negotiation by a qualified criminal defense attorney.

What are the long-term consequences of a felony assault with a deadly weapon conviction?
A felony conviction for assault with a deadly weapon can have long-lasting impacts, including significant prison time, hefty fines, loss of the right to own firearms, and challenges in securing employment or housing. It’s crucial to have effective legal representation to mitigate these consequences as much as possible.

How a Criminal Defense Firm Can Help

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Facing charges for assault with a deadly weapon requires the expertise of a criminal defense firm that understands the complexities of Arizona law and the stakes involved.

The Law Office of Daniel Hutto specializes in providing personalized legal strategies tailored to the unique circumstances of each case. With a deep knowledge of Arizona Revised Statutes and a commitment to protecting clients’ rights, the firm is adept at challenging prosecution evidence, negotiating reduced charges, and advocating for penalty mitigation. Their approach not only focuses on legal representation but also offers support and guidance throughout the legal process, ensuring clients are well-informed and prepared for every step.

To schedule a free initial consultation with the Law Office of Daniel Hutto, you can contact them at 602) 536-7878

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