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Assault vs Aggravated Assault Charges in Arizona

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Assault vs Aggravated Assault Charges

In Arizona, you can be charged with a misdemeanor or felony assault under several different circumstances. An assault conviction can leave you with a criminal record and potentially result in a lengthy jail or prison sentence, stiff fines, and a loss of your civil rights.

If you are facing assault charges, it is essential for you to take your case seriously. An experienced criminal defense attorney at Colburn Hintze Maletta can review your case and help you to understand the penalties you are facing and the legal defenses that might be available to you.

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Misdemeanor Assault vs. Felony Aggravated Assault

Simple or misdemeanor assault is found in ARS 13-1203. Under this statute, you can be charged with assault if you recklessly, knowingly, or intentional cause an injury to someone else, intentionally cause someone else to fear that they will suffer imminent harm, or touch someone with the intent to injure, insult, or provoke him or her.

A simple misdemeanor assault charged under this statute can range from a class three to a class one misdemeanor. However, if certain aggravating factors are present, you can be charged with felony aggravated assault instead.

Felony aggravated assault is found in ARS 13-1204. Under this statute, you can be charged with a felony aggravated assault when you cause someone else to suffer serious bodily injuries or disfigurement or use a weapon during the assault. You can also be charged with a felony aggravated assault if you use a dangerous weapon or instrument to cause another person to fear that they will suffer an immediate and serious injury.

Aggravated assault can also be charged if you assault a public servant, including a prosecutor, teacher, prison guard, or police officer. If the person is a public servant, you can be charged with a felony assault even if he or she did not suffer serious injuries.

If you are at least age 18 and assault someone who is 15 or younger, you can also be charged with felony assault. The penalties that you might face will depend on your criminal record and the factors surrounding what happened.

Misdemeanor Assault Penalties

Simple assaults can be charged at three different misdemeanor levels. The penalties that might be assessed for each level of misdemeanor assault include the following:

  • Class 3 misdemeanor assault when you touch someone to injure, provoke, or harm them – Jail for up to 30 days and a fine of up to $500
  • Class 2 misdemeanor assault for threatening to cause injury or harm – Jail for up to four months and a fine of up to $750
  • Class 1 misdemeanor assault for causing physical injuries to someone else – Jail for up to six months and a fine of up to $2,500

Aggravated Assault Penalties

The penalties for aggravated assault are more severe since it is a felony offense. There are different felony levels and penalties that can be assessed, depending on the specific aggravating factors that exist at the time of the assault.

Some of these are detailed below.

Aggravated Assault Using a Deadly Weapon

Committing an aggravated assault with a deadly weapon is a class 3 felony and is designated as a dangerous felony. Depending on your criminal history, you will face the following penalties upon a conviction:

  • First offense class 3 felony – From 5 up to 15 years in prison and a fine of up to $150,000
  • Second offense with 1 prior felony conviction – Minimum 10 years up to a maximum of 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $150,000
  • Third offense with 2 prior felony convictions – Minimum of 15 years in prison up to a maximum of 25 years in prison and a fine of up to $150,000

Aggravated Assault with Serious Disfigurement or Serious Injuries

An aggravated assault that seriously injured or disfigured someone else is a class 3 felony. However, it is designated as a non-dangerous felony. Depending on your record, you will face the following penalties upon a conviction:

  • First offense class 3 non-dangerous felony – 1 year in jail with probation or prison from 2 years up to 8.75 years and a fine of up to $150,000
  • Second offense class 3 non-dangerous felony – Minimum prison of 3.25 years up to 16.25 years
  • Third offense class 3 non-dangerous felony – Minimum sentence of 7.5 years up to 25 years in prison

Aggravated Assault Causing Temporary Disfigurement or Fractures

If you are convicted of an aggravated assault in which the victim suffered a fracture or a temporary but substantial disfigurement, the offense is a class 4 non-dangerous felony.

For this offense, you will face the following penalties if you are convicted:

  • First offense class 4 non-dangerous felony – Up to 1 year in jail with probation or from 1 to 3.75 years in prison and a fine of up to $150,000
  • Second offense class 4 non-dangerous felony – From 2.25 years up to 7.5 years in prison
  • Third offense class 4 non-dangerous felony – From 6 to 15 years in prison

Aggravated Assault Based on the Victim’s Status

If you commit what would otherwise be charged as a misdemeanor but is instead charged as a felony because of the victim’s status, it is a class 6 felony.

For the charge to be enhanced from a misdemeanor to a felony, the victim must be a teacher, law enforcement officer, prison guard, prosecutor, or health care provider.

The penalties you will face if you are convicted include the following:

  • First-offense class 6 felony – Up to 1 year in jail with probation or from 4 months up to 2 years in prison
  • Second-offense class 6 felony – From 9 months up to 2.75 years in prison
  • Third offense class 6 felony – From 2.25 years to 5.75 years in prison

Aggravated Assault on a Police Officer While He or She is Performing Job Duties

Assaulting a police officer while he or she is performing the duties of the job, causing a police officer to be seriously injured, or using a deadly weapon to seriously injure a police officer is a class 2 felony.

Upon a conviction for causing a serious injury to a police officer, you will face the following penalties:

  • First offense class 2 felony – Minimum prison from 3 up to 5 years
  • Second offense class 2 felony – From 5 up to 23 years in prison
  • Third offense class 2 felony – From 5 years to 35 years in prison

Upon a conviction of aggravated assault against a police officer involving the use of a deadly weapon, you will face the following penalties:

  • First offense class 2 dangerous felony – Minimum prison from 7 up to 21 years
  • Second offense class 2 dangerous felony – From 14 up to 28 years in prison
  • Third offense class 2 dangerous felony – From 21 years to 35 years in prison

Aggravated Assault with a Victim who is Under the Age of 15

If you are 18 or older and assault someone who is younger than age 15, it is a class 2 felony and is considered a dangerous crime against children under ARS 13-705.

Dangerous crimes against children (DCAC) have a particular sentencing scheme with much harsher penalties.

If a person causes serious physical injury or uses a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument during an assault against a child under the age of 15, they will face a mandatory prison sentence of 10 to 24 years. If you are charged with aggravated assault against a minor under the age of 15, you need to talk to an experienced assault attorney at Colburn Hintze Maletta for more information about what you might be facing for this offense and the defenses available in your case.

Potential Defenses to Assault and Aggravated Assault Charges

There are multiple defenses that might be available, depending on what happened in your case. A common defense that is raised against assault charges is self-defense. You can assert a defense of self-defense when the other person threatened you or used physical force first. The force you used must be reasonable under the circumstances.

If the alleged victim is a police officer, your attorney might present evidence showing that you were unaware of his or her status. Your lawyer might also present evidence that the police officer was not performing his or her job duties when the incident happened.

There are other defenses that might also be available. To fully understand what happened and collect evidence to support your case, your attorney might interview witnesses, including people who saw what occurred but were not listed in the police report. Video evidence might also be gathered from security cameras.

In some assault cases, the victims might ask the prosecutors to dismiss the charges. However, the state is responsible for bringing criminal charges, and reluctant victims can be compelled to testify against their wishes. However, your attorney might be able to negotiate with the prosecutor to secure a favorable plea agreement to a lesser charge if the victim does not want to go through with the case. In some cases, your attorney may be able to secure a complete dismissal of the charges.

Some other potential assault defenses might include the following:

  • Actual innocence – No assault occurred
  • Alibi – You were somewhere else when the incident happened
  • Misidentification through faulty eyewitness identification procedures
  • Lack of evidence of injuries
  • Defense of others

If the police subjected you to a custodial interrogation without reading your Miranda rights, your attorney might file a motion to ask the court to suppress any statements you might have made.

Similarly, if the police persisted in questioning you after you invoked your right to remain silent or to have an attorney, your statements might be suppressed.

Get Help from the Attorneys at Colburn Hintze Maletta

Being accused of a crime in Arizona can be a frightening experience. If you are facing misdemeanor or felony assault charges, you should speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney at Colburn Hintze Maletta as soon as possible.

Call us today to schedule a consultation to learn about your rights at 602.825.2500.

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