Assault & Aggravated Assault
In Arizona, “assault” is defined as knowingly, intentionally, or recklessly either causing physical injury to another or placing them in reasonable danger of physical injury. It also includes touching a person with intention of injuring, insulting, or provoking them. Aggravated assault charges are leveled when the intentions or results are more serious.
A person in Arizona can be charged with aggravated assault if he or she uses a deadly weapon in their attack. If the person he or she attacks is restrained, or the victim’s capacity to defend him or herself is impaired in any way, this is considered aggravated assault. Aggravated assault may result in temporary disfigurement or impairment to the use of any body part. The assailant is committing aggravated assault if they attack someone by entering a private home with the intention of causing physical harm. If an adult (over 18 years old) commits assault on a minor under 15, this too, is aggravated assault.
If you are facing these types of charges, a Phoenix criminal defense lawyer at Stewart Law Group can help you.
Aggravated Vehicular Assault in Phoenix, AZ
Arizona has no particular law for vehicular manslaughter. Instead, the state prosecutes these cases under aggravated assault charges. Vehicular aggravated assault typically occurs when a driver is impaired by drugs or alcohol. Charges of vehicular aggravated assault can be leveled against drivers who are considered to have knowingly, intentionally, or recklessly caused injury. A vehicle is considered the deadly weapon in aggravated assault cases.
Vehicular aggravated assault is typically charged when a driver is deemed reckless. Reckless driving involves a disregard for the safety of people and property. Reckless driving in itself is only a class 2 misdemeanor, if it’s a first offense, which carries a minimum sentence of 4 months behind bars. Drivers found guilty of reckless driving typically must surrender their licenses. Penalties grow in severity if the driver committed another reckless driving, driving under the influence, tries to flee the scene, or has a similar offense in the 2 years before the current arrest.
Reckless driving is mostly about risk, and includes possible property damage. Vehicular aggravated assault charges relate only to injury, and the guessing is out of the equation; someone has been injured or killed, not just determined to be at risk of injury or death. Charges can vary depending on a number of factors. If a police officer, a firefighter, a teacher on school grounds, a park ranger, a public defender, or a prosecutor is affected by the incident, the likelihood of being charged with vehicular aggravated assault goes up. The specific felony the driver can be charged with also becomes more serious depending on the identity of the victim.
Class 5 felony charges are the most lenient that can come from vehicular aggravated assault convictions. A class 5 felony carries a minimum sentence of 9 months. Vehicular aggravated assault can result in a class 2 felony depending on the victim, the severity of the injury, the driver’s impairment, and other factors. This carries a minimum prison sentence of 4 years.
DUI & Vehicular Assault
DUI charges can add to the severity of vehicular aggravated assault penalties. It is against the law in Arizona to drive or be in control of a vehicle while influenced by alcohol, drugs, a vapor releasing substance, or any combination of the three. A blood alcohol content of .08% within two hours of driving a vehicle is illegal. Though DUI accidents are not considered premeditated, it is still possible to be charged with vehicular aggravated assault for deciding to drive while under the influence. If you’re dealing with DUI plus vehicular aggravated assault charges, an expert Phoenix DUI attorney can help.
How We Can Help
If you’ve been charged with vehicular aggravated assault and/or driving under the influence, we can help you. We will discuss your case with you and develop an effective legal defense. Each case is unique but because of the similarities, there are common defenses used in vehicular aggravated assault cases. Some of the most common ones include the following:
No Serious Injury: To be convicted of vehicular aggravated assault, the victim must have actually suffered a serious physical injury; the potential for injury is not enough for this charge (though you could be charged with a lesser offense). Under Arizona law, serious physical injury is defined as “any 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.”
No Intentional, Knowing, or Reckless Behavior: To prove vehicular aggravated assault, the state must provide evidence that you engaged in the behavior intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly. Sometimes accidents happen, and people are seriously injured. This doesn’t always mean that the person responsible for the accident is guilty of a criminal offense.
Intentional. A person acts intentionally when they engage in behavior that is likely to cause the desired outcome. For example, if a person drives their car into someone on purpose, this is intentional behavior under Arizona law.
Knowing. A person acts knowingly when they are aware of their conduct and did not act through ignorance, mistake, or accident.
Reckless. A person behaves recklessly when they know that the outcome of their behavior could cause serious harm to victims, and they consciously disregard this risk and engage in the behavior anyway. The behavior must be a gross deviation from the standard of conduct that a reasonable person would engage in under the same circumstances. The most common example is driving under the influence.
No DUI: Many DUI accidents that cause serious injury to the victim are charged as vehicular aggravated assaults in Arizona. If this is the basis for the charge, we will argue that you were not under the influence at the time. This can be done by calling law enforcement’s testimony and observations into question, filing a motion to suppress any evidence or statements relating to the charge, if applicable, or by providing evidence that you weren’t the driver. This is not exhaustive, as there are many legal defenses to driving under the influence that change from case to case.
If the unfortunate happens and you are found guilty of vehicular aggravated assault, we also handle sentencing, where we will obtain as much information as possible for mitigation to try to get the most lenient sentence possible. Relevant mitigating factors that Arizona courts consider include the following:
- The defendant’s age
- The defendant’s ability to understand that their conduct was wrong
- Whether the defendant stopped to help the victim during or after the crime
- Any other evidence that can be provided related to the circumstances of the incident or regarding the defendant’s background or character. This can include the defendant’s lack of criminal history, their contribution to society, information regarding their upbringing, and anything else that is relevant.
Vehicular aggravated assault is a serious charge in Arizona. The nature of the crime means it usually comes with other penalties as well, such as DUI and reckless driving. If you are faced with any charges related to vehicular aggravated assault, contact a Phoenix vehicular assault attorney at Stewart Law Group to set up a FREE case evaluation and prepare for the road ahead.
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