In Arizona, assault charges generally involve acts considered to be misdemeanors. It involves:

  • Recklessly and knowingly causing somebody physical injury.
  • Deliberately touching somebody for the purpose of insult, provocation, or bodily injury.
  • Deliberately making somebody feel reasonably threatened by impending bodily harm.

These acts of misdemeanor, however, may be upgraded to felonies in case of aggravating circumstances.

Circumstances of Aggravated Assault

Arizona laws define aggravated assault as the commission of assault under circumstances that merit graver punishment for the purpose of deterrence. It is considered a dangerous criminal offense. The commission of it thus results in prison time, even when it’s a first offense.

As a felony, it is typically categorized as Class 3 or Class 4. What are the usual circumstances that elevate a simple assault, which is a misdemeanor, to felony status?

  • Causing somebody serious physical injury or considerable disfigurement.
  • Intentionally scaring somebody with imminent serious physical harm using a deadly weapon or a dangerous instrument.
  • Committing simple assault upon a law enforcement officer, a prosecutor, a prison guard, a firefighter, a healthcare provider, or a teacher.
  • Committing simple assault on a child 15 years of age or younger, provided that the person committing the otherwise misdemeanor assault is an adult of 18 years or older.
  • Assaulting somebody who is restrained at that time.
  • Assaulting somebody after entering his or her private home.

There are also other less common circumstances that lead to a felony assault charge, especially where threatening or intimidating behavior is concerned.

  • Threatening or intimidating somebody on his or her own property because this person witnessed a crime.
  • Acting in a manner that risks imminent death.

It is also important to note that a felonious assault charge may also be given to a drunk driver who caused an accident, resulting in another person’s serious bodily injury or considerable disfigurement. In this case, the motor vehicle is considered a dangerous instrument.

Penalties for Aggravated Assault

The penalty awarded the defendant largely depends on which particular Aggravated Assault statute provision was violated and if the perpetrator of criminal assault has any criminal record. Punishment may vary from just one and a half years to 25 years of prison time. The judge may include other penalties in the sentence, but when it comes to incarceration, the following are some of the possible penalties.

  1. For cases involving assault with a deadly weapon, the usual punishment range for a Class 3 first offender is a minimum of five years and a maximum of 15 years. The minimum is increased when:
  • The defendant has at least one prior conviction for a dangerous felony (10-20 years).
  • The defendant has more than one prior conviction for a dangerous felony (15-25 years).
  1. In assaults with no weapon or dangerous instrument, cases where serious physical injury or considerable disfigurement is involved typically warrant Class 3 punishment that may range from probation with no prison time to 8.75 years in prison. Again, longer prison time is given to those with prior convictions.
  • Punishment for those with one prior conviction ranges from 3.5 to 16.25 years in prison.
  • Punishment for those with more than one prior conviction ranges from 7.5 to 25 years in prison.
  1. For assaults resulting in temporary, yet substantial disfigurement, which includes body part fractures, they are categorized Class 4, a non-dangerous felony. Punishment may range from probation with no prison time to 3.75 years incarceration. Criminal history with a prior conviction will increase the penalty.
  • A prior conviction merits 2.25 to 7.5 years in prison.
  • More than one prior conviction merits six to 15 years in prison.
  1. Crimes against certain people have graver consequences. The victim’s status in the community may upgrade a simple assault misdemeanor to an aggravated assault felony. It is categorized Class 6, which, in such circumstances, carries a punishment range of probation with no jail time to two years of prison time.
  • One prior conviction increases range to nine months to 2.75 years in prison.
  • More than one prior conviction increases range to 2.25 to 5.75 years in prison.

Take note that when an assault is knowingly or intentionally committed on a peace officer engaged in official duties with the defendant using a dangerous weapon or the victim suffering serious injury from the attack, it becomes a Class 2 felony. It carries a minimum sentence of 10.5 years and a maximum of 21 years in prison for first offenders.

  • One prior conviction increases the range to 15.75 to 28 years in prison.
  • More than one prior conviction increases the range to 28 to 35 years in prison.
  1. If the victim of an assault is younger than 15, it also becomes a Class 2 felony with graver penalties of prison time ranges higher than any of the ones already mentioned.

Criminal Defense Attorney

If you’re facing aggravated assault felony charges, seek legal counsel right away. You need an expert on criminal law with an emphasis on violent crimes to guide you and assist you in what you face. A criminal defense lawyer can you help you mount a legal defense to counter the criminal charges against you.

Choose a knowledgeable and experienced criminal defense attorney for legal representation. Call the Law Office of Howard A. Snader to speak to one of the criminal defense attorneys in Arizona.