The Shaw Law Firm has represented hundreds of people who have been charged with serious crimes and is ready to create a vigorous defense. Here is what you need to know about felony aggravated assault charges and the potential defenses that might be available to you.
A felony aggravated assault charge is a serious offense that needs to be taken seriously as it can result in severe penalties. If you are convicted of felony aggravated assault, you may be sentenced to serve years in prison, face tens of thousands of dollars in fines, lose your rights to possess or own firearms and face ongoing collateral consequences long after your sentence is completed.
Felony aggravated assault offenses can be charged in several situations. While you might not have intended to commit aggravated assault, you can be charged with this offense if you used a weapon, caused serious injuries to someone else, assaulted a law enforcement officer, or committed an assault in which other aggravating factors were present.
If you have been charged with this offense, you should retain an experienced criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible.
Under A.R.S. § 13-1203, an assault occurs when a person intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly injures someone else, intentionally places another person in fear of an imminent physical injury, or knowingly touches another person with the intent to provoke, insult, or injure him or her. Under this statute, a regular assault is a class three to class one misdemeanor, depending on the particular action and circumstances. However, if specific aggravating factors exist, a person can be charged with a felony aggravated assault under A.R.S. § 13-1204.
A felony aggravated assault can be charged when a person causes another person to be seriously injured or when the defendant uses a weapon. Some other aggravating circumstances can cause a simple assault to become an aggravated assault. In addition to causing a serious injury or significant disfigurement to another person, aggravated assault may be charged when the defendant uses a dangerous instrument or weapon to cause someone else to fear an imminent serious injury.
Under A.R.S. § 13-1204, you can also be charged with aggravated assault when you commit a simple assault on someone who has a status as a public servant. For example, if you assault a teacher, prosecutor, police officer, or prison guard, you can be charged with an aggravated assault even if the person was not seriously injured.
An aggravated assault may also be charged if you are 18 or older and assault a minor who is 15 or younger. The potential penalties that you might face will depend on which particular provision of the statute that you are charged with violating.
What are the Penalties for Aggravated Assault Charges?
The statute covering aggravated assault is complex and detailed. The penalties and offense grading depends on the facts of the offense. Because the statute and penalties are confusing, it is a good idea to consult with the Shah Law Firm to determine the penalties that you might face if you are convicted. Some examples of different penalties and offense grades for different types of aggravated assault are covered below.
– Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon or Dangerous Instrument
If you are convicted of committing an aggravated assault while you were using a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument, it is a class 3 dangerous felony.
First Offense – You will face a minimum of 5 years in prison, 7.5 years in prison as the presumptive sentence, or a maximum of 15 years.
One prior conviction for a dangerous felony, your sentencing range will be increased to 10 years minimum, 11.25 years presumptive, and a maximum of 20 years in prison.
Two prior convictions for dangerous felonies, the mandatory minimum sentence is 15 years. The presumptive sentence will be 20 years, and you can face up to a maximum of 25 years in prison.
– Aggravated Assault Causing Serious Injuries or Disfigurement Without a Weapon
If you seriously injure someone or cause significant disfigurement to him or her with the required mental state, you will be charged with a class 3 non-dangerous felony offense. The penalties that you will face if you are convicted as charged include the following:
First Offense – Probation with up to 1 year in jail, or prison from 2 to 8.75 years
One Prior Conviction – Mandatory minimum of 3.5 years, up to 16.25 years in prison
Two Prior Convictions – Mandatory minimum sentence of 7.5 years up to a maximum of 25 years
If the offense did not cause serious injuries but caused temporary and significant disfigurement or a fracture, a conviction is a class 4 non-dangerous felony with the following penalties:
First Offense – Probation with up to 1 year of jail, or prison from 1 to 3.75 years
One Prior Conviction – Prison from 2.25 years to 7.5 years
Two Prior Convictions – Prison from 6 to 15 years
– Aggravated Assault Based on the Status of the Victim
An assault that would otherwise be a misdemeanor but is charged as an aggravated assault based on the special status of the victim is a Class 6 felony. The special statuses include the following roles:
Law enforcement officer
Health care provider
If you are convicted of this Class 6 felony, the penalties that you will face include the following:
First Offense – Probation with up to 1 year in jail, or prison from 4 months up to 2 years
One Prior Conviction – Prison from 9 months up to 2.75 years
Two Prior Convictions – Prison from 2.25 years up to 5.75 years
If you are convicted of knowingly or intentionally assaulting a law enforcement officer while he or she is performing his or her duties, causing serious injuries to a police officer, or using a deadly weapon that causes serious injuries to the officer, you will be charged with a Class 2 felony.
If you are convicted of this offense, you will be required to serve at least the presumptive sentence. The penalties that you will face if you are convicted of this offense include the following:
First Offense – Minimum 10.5 years in prison up to a maximum of 21 years
One Prior Conviction – Prison from 15.75 years up to 28 years
Two Prior Convictions – Prison from 28 years up to 35 years
– Aggravated Assault on a Victim Younger than 15 Years Old
If you are convicted of committing an aggravated assault on a victim who is under the age of 15, you will have a Class 2 felony on your record. However, this type of offense is classified as a dangerous crime against a child, and it carries substantially higher prison sentences. An attorney can help you to understand the penalties that you might face for this type of offense.
Can a Defense Attorney Help with Felony Aggravated Assault Charges?
The defenses that might be available in your case will depend on the circumstances of what happened. Self-defense under A.R.S. § 13-404 is commonly raised in aggravated assault cases. Self-defense may be raised when the alleged victim used physical force or threatened you with harm first and did not withdraw from the encounter. In these situations, the alleged victim is the initial aggressor. Many of these types of cases involve alleged victims who have been drinking.
In cases in which if the alleged victim is a law enforcement officer, it will be important to present evidence that the defendant did not know of the alleged victim’s special status. Your attorney might also try to show that the officer was not executing his or her official duties when the assault allegedly occurred.
When your lawyer works to build a defense, he or she may interview any witnesses that saw what happened. He or she might also search for witnesses who saw what happened who are not listed in the officer’s report. Your lawyer might try to find video from security cameras in the area to see what happened.
In some cases, a victim will ask for the charges to be dismissed. However, charges are brought by the state instead of the victim. The state can compel a victim to testify against you even if he or she does not want to do so. In this type of situation, it is sometimes possible for your attorney to negotiate a plea to a lesser offense or convince him or her to dismiss the case.
What are My Constitutional Defenses?
In some aggravated assault cases, there may be some available defenses based on violations of the defendants’ constitutional rights. For example, if the police failed to read the Miranda warnings to you after your arrest and interrogated you, your lawyer might be able to get any statements that you subsequently made suppressed.
This would mean that the prosecutor would not be able to use what you said during the interrogation against you. Any evidence that the police were able to gather based on the statements that you made would also be suppressed in this situation.
Similarly, your lawyer might be able to get your statements suppressed if you asked for a lawyer and were not provided with counsel before you were questioned.
There are many other types of defenses that might be available to you. Your defense attorney will carefully examine the evidence and the reports in your case to identify the strategies to use.
Contact the Shah Law Firm
If you have been charged with aggravated assault, you need to talk to an experienced criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. Getting help early can allow your attorney more time to investigate your case and build a strong defense case for you. Contact the Shah Law Firm today to schedule a consultation by calling us at 602.888.0369.