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Have you or a loved one been arrested for aggravated assault in Phoenix, AZ? Contact the experienced Phoenix criminal defense lawyers at the Orent Law Group for immediate legal assistance. Your future is on the line, and our seasoned aggravated assault lawyers will do everything we can to protect it. Give us a call today to schedule a free consultation and learn more about how we can help.
Aggravated assault is a relatively common crime committed in Arizona. In fact, in 2017, It accounted for 8.5% of all crimes and 63% of violent crimes. But, while assault is a misdemeanor under state law, aggravated assault is a more serious charge. This crime is a felony and carries a prison sentence if you are convicted.
An assault involves intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causing injury to someone. It also includes touching another person with the intent to provoke them, or intentionally placing someone in reasonable apprehension that they are about to be harmed.
Now, if these conditions are met, a charge of assault gets upgraded to aggravated assault if one or more of the following occurred:
Note: it’s not aggravated assault if you only made threats to injure.
Note that in addition to the factors listed above, the characteristics of the victim can also elevate the crime of assault to an aggravated assault. This would apply if you had reason to know that the victim fell into one of the following categories:
Peace Officers: This includes police officers and constables, as well as individuals directed by the police or constable.
First Responders: This includes firefighters, fire investigators, EMTs, or paramedics engaged in their official duties.
Teachers: This includes teachers or anyone else employed by the school as long as they are on school grounds or:
Licensed Healthcare Practitioners: However, those individuals must be engaged in their professional duties. Note: this does not apply if the person who committed the assault is mentally ill or afflicted with Alzheimer’s or dementia.
Judicial Officers: This includes prosecutors or public defenders while either engaged in their duties or as a result of their duties. An example would be if you attacked a prosecutor outside of the courthouse because of something he said in the courtroom.
Code Enforcement Officers: Again, the individuals must be harmed while engaged in official duties or as a result of their duties. For example, you might face aggravated assault charges if you attacked a parking enforcement officer for giving you a ticket.
State or Municipal Park Rangers: This includes all rangers who are attacked on the job or performing a task related to their employment.
Now, the relationship between you and the victim can also play a role in how you are charged. Specifically, in some cases, an aggravated assault charge can come under the domestic violence statute.
This statute would apply if you intentionally impeded the breathing or circulation of blood for the victim by applying pressure to the throat or neck (i.e., choking), or obstructed the nose/mouth entirely and the victim is one of the following:
The court will consider the type, length, and frequency of the relationship to determine whether or not it qualifies as domestic violence. For example, a one-night stand probably wouldn’t be covered under the statute.
Now, the penalties for aggravated assault in Arizona differ according to the circumstances of your case. Specifically, if the assault is considered a “dangerous offense,” it carries more severe penalties. Dangerous offenses include assault with a deadly weapon and assault that caused serious injury.
So, for example, if the assault does not involve one of the classes of victims listed above but does involve a deadly weapon, it would be considered a dangerous class 3 felony. This carries a penalty of between 5 and 15 years in prison.
By contrast, let’s say you entered someone’s home with the intent to assault them and then did, in fact, assault them. If you did not cause serious injury or use a deadly weapon, this would be classified as a non-dangerous class 6 felony. This carries a penalty of between 4 months to 1.5 years in prison.
Note that if the victim is under the age of 15, the aggravated assault will be prosecuted under the Dangerous Crimes Against Children statute. This carries a penalty of between 10 and 24 years in prison. Further, if you have any prior convictions on your record, you face higher prison sentences.
These cases can become quite complex due to all of the factors that affect sentencing. For that reason, you will want to discuss your unique circumstances with a qualified Phoenix criminal defense attorney.
In any criminal case, the prosecution has what is known as the “burden of proof” when it comes to determining your guilt or innocence. This means that they must show that you committed the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. Beyond a reasonable doubt refers to the conclusion that no other rational explanation can be made from the facts presented other than you committed the crime.
A strong defense, led by an experienced criminal attorney, can make it difficult for the state to meet this burden. Here are some defense strategies that might help if you’ve been arrested or charged with aggravated assault in Arizona.
This requires the prosecution to prove that you had the requisite state of mind for aggravated assault. By law, you must have acted either intentionally or recklessly. This means that being merely negligent or careless is not enough to be found criminally liable. So, for example, if you accidentally fell on someone, this would not be assault.
Likewise, for charges that are based on the type of victim, such as a police officer or teacher, the state must prove that you actually knew that they were working in that capacity. So, for example, if you hurt an undercover cop, there may not be any evidence that you knew the person’s professional identity and this would be a valid defense.
Self-defense is also a defense that can be raised in aggravated assault cases. In Arizona, you are allowed to use a reasonable amount of force to protect yourself against attempted use of unlawful force by another person.
Note that you can’t use self-defense in response to a verbal provocation on its own. But, you may be able to use it even in fights that you started. But, this defense only works if you communicated to the other person that you wanted to stop fighting and they continued to attack you. If you then protect yourself from that continued aggression, it would be considered self-defense.
However, remember if you used more force than was necessary, you would once again be considered the aggressor and self-defense would not apply. Keep in mind that self-defense does not apply to resisting arrest, provided that you knew the person that was restraining you was a police officer.
You may also raise defenses based on violation of your constitutional rights. This would apply in cases where there was an illegal search or seizure or you were pressured into offering a confession without first being read your Miranda rights. In this case, any evidence obtained by the police in this manner could be kept out of court, and the prosecution may not be able to prove its case and obtain a conviction.
If you are facing aggravated assault charges in Phoenix you will need a strong defense. Our law firm has decades of experience handling these challenging criminal matters. An aggravated assault conviction can have serious consequences, so don’t go it alone. Contact our Phoenix law office today for a free initial consultation with our criminal lawyers today.