Click for free consultation

ARS 13-1204 Arizona’s Aggravated Assault Law

Assault charges are serious in Arizona, but certain circumstances can boost what’s otherwise a misdemeanor charge of simple assault into a felony charge of aggravated assault. When an assault occurs under conditions that law enforcement considers “aggravated” it adds far more serious repercussions, including increased penalties like prison time and a felony conviction on a permanent criminal record. 

Under what circumstances do a defendant’s actions elevate from simple assault to aggravated assault, and what are the potential consequences of a conviction? How can a Phoenix assault attorney help?

What is Simple Assault in Arizona?

The term “simple assault” may be misleading because no act of violence is simple and neither are the criminal charges. But under Arizona §13-1203, a suspect may face charges of simple assault under the following circumstances as stated in the statute:

A person commits assault by Intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causing any physical injury to another person; or Intentionally placing another person in reasonable apprehension of imminent physical injury; or knowingly touching another person with the intent to injure, insult or provoke such person.”

Simple assault is a class 3 misdemeanor when it involves physically touching another person to hurt them or provoke them into a fight. Simple assault charges may also result from putting another person in fear of imminent danger by using threatening language or waving a fist even without making physical contact. This is a class 2 misdemeanor.

A conviction for simple assault commonly results in 30 days to six months in jail, with probation, fines, and community service. It may also involve mandatory counseling or anger management therapy.

Simple assault charges are serious and result in a permanent criminal record that could impact the convicted person’s ability to pursue certain careers. However, when the assault charge becomes elevated to aggravated assault, the consequences of a conviction go from bad to worse and from misdemeanor to felony.

Understanding Aggravated Assault Under Arizona ARS 13-1204

Arizona’s Revised Statute 13-1204 classifies aggravated assault as a felony. Depending on the circumstances involved in the assault, aggravated assault charges could range from a class 2 to a class 6 felony. The statute lists eight ways a simple assault becomes an aggravated assault under Arizona law. It’s important to understand how easily an assault becomes aggravated with significantly more serious consequences upon a conviction. Simple assault charges elevate into felony aggravated assault under any of the following conditions:

  • If the assault causes serious injury to the victim
  • If the suspect used a “deadly weapon or dangerous instrument”
  • If the assault causes substantial temporary disfigurement, fracture, or loss or impairment of any bodily organ or function
  • If the assault is committed against a person who is bound, physically restrained, or under a substantially impaired ability to resist
  • If the assault is committed after the suspect enters the victim’s home with the intent to commit the assault
  • If the suspect is 18 years old or older and commits an assault against a minor under 15 years old
  • If the suspect commits a simple assault as described under Arizona §13-1203 against a person who is the subject of a restraining order against them
  • If the suspect commits the assault against any law enforcement officer, firefighter, emergency responder, teacher, or school employee while on the school grounds, or against a healthcare worker
  • If the suspect takes the weapon of any law enforcement officer or peace officer
  • If the assault is against prosecutors, public defenders, employees of the justice system in the course of their duties, peace officers, or anyone working or incarcerated in a prison.
  • If the suspect commits assault while incarcerated or in the custody of any law enforcement agency
  • If the suspect uses a simulation of a deadly weapon
  • If the suspect impedes the breathing of the assault victim

The above is a broad summary of ARS 13-04 and other circumstances not listed could result in the addition of “aggravated” to simple assault charges. The most common cause of elevating assault charges to aggravated assault in Arizona is assault on a law enforcement officer.

What Are the Legal Penalties of an Aggravated Assault Conviction in Arizona?

Depending on the seriousness of the assault and its consequences to the victim, assault charges are classed as different felony levels with increasingly harsh penalties. For example, if a suspect resists arrests, they may commit a class 5 felony by struggling with the arresting officer without causing them injury. If they do cause injury to the arresting officer, it’s a level 4 felony with more serious consequences. Serious injuries to the officer will result in class 2 felony charges. Penalties are as follows:

  • Class 2 felony results in 3 to 12.5 years incarceration
  • Class 3 felony results in 2 to 8.75 years incarceration
  • Class 4 felony results in 1 to 3.75 years incarceration
  • Class 5 felony results in 6 months to 2.5 years incarceration
  • Class 6 felony results in 33 days to 2 years

Second offenses carry higher penalties with increased incarceration time and even stricter penalties for a third felony aggravated assault conviction. A third conviction for a class 2 felony carries up to 35 years in prison.

What is Considered a “Serious Injury” Under ARS 13-1204 in Arizona?

Typically, the term “serious injury” is subjective, but in Arizona law, § ARS 13-105 defines serious injury in the following way:

“Physical injury that creates a reasonable risk of death, or that causes serious and permanent disfigurement, serious impairment of health or loss or protracted impairment of the function of any bodily organ or limb.”

Sometimes questions arise about what the state considers a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument. For example, would threatening someone with a fork be considered a dangerous instrument? Under most circumstances, yes. According to ARS 13-15, “dangerous instrument means the following:

“Anything that under the circumstances in which it is used, attempted to be used or threatened to be used is readily capable of causing death or serious physical injury.”

This includes baseball bats, golf clubs, hammers, or a wide range of implements depending on how they were used to threaten or cause injury.

The same statute describes a deadly weapon as:

“Anything designed for lethal use, including a firearm.” This could also refer to knives, swords, crossbows, and other weapons.

Are You Facing Aggravated Assault Charges in Arizona?

Aggravated assault charges are serious and a conviction is life-altering. If you’ve been charged with this offense, you need an immediate aggressive defense strategy from an experienced Phoenix criminal attorney.