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Misdemeanor Assault vs. Aggravated Felony Assault: What to Know

Posted on June 13, 2023 in assault & violent crimes

Assault is the crime of intentionally, knowingly or recklessly causing or threatening to cause physical injury to another person. In Arizona, there are two classifications of assault: simple and aggravated. Simple assault is a misdemeanor, while aggravated assault is a felony. Learn the differences between these two crimes to better understand your situation if you have been placed under arrest.

What Is Misdemeanor Assault in Arizona?

Misdemeanor assault is defined in Arizona Revised Statutes Section 13-1203 as intentionally, knowingly or recklessly causing physical injury to another person, placing another person in reasonable apprehension of imminent harm, or touching another person with intent to injure, insult or provoke that person. All of these are referred to as “simple assault.”

 Intentionally or knowingly assaulting someone is a Class 1 misdemeanor in Arizona if it results in physical injury to the victim. Recklessly assaulting someone or placing someone in fear of imminent physical injury is a Class 2 misdemeanor. Knowingly touching someone with intent to harm or provoke them is a Class 3 misdemeanor.

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What Is Aggravated Felony Assault?

Aggravated assault is a more severe charge than simple assault. It is a felony crime rather than a misdemeanor. According to Arizona Revised Statutes Section 13-1204, aggravated assault means to commit assault under any of the following circumstances:

  • If the victim suffers a serious physical injury.
  • If the perpetrator used a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument.
  • If the means of force used resulted in temporary but substantial disfigurement, loss or impairment of any body part or organ, or a bone fracture.
  • If the victim’s capacity to resist was substantially impaired, such as if bound or physically restrained.
  • If the assault occurred after the perpetrator entered the home of the victim with intent to commit assault.
  • If the perpetrator was over the age of 18 and the victim was a minor under the age of 15.
  • If the perpetrator was in violation of an order of protection or committing domestic violence.
  • If the assault was committed knowing that the victim was a peace officer, constable, firefighter, paramedic, teacher, health care worker or another protected party.
  • If, during the assault, the perpetrator knowingly attempts to take or control a peace officer’s firearm or weapon.
  • If the perpetrator was in custody or imprisoned and committed assault against an official employee of the facility.

In any of these circumstances, charges brought against the offender will be enhanced from a misdemeanor to a felony for aggravated assault. This will result in more serious potential penalties and consequences for the defendant.

What Are the Penalties for Either Type of Charge?

A conviction for simple assault in Arizona can result in penalties such as 30 days to 6 months in jail, plus 1 to 3 years of probation and $500 to $2,500 in fines. Aggravated assault can lead to more enhanced penalties. The prison term for aggravated felony assault in Arizona can range from 18 months to 21 years, plus up to $150,000 in fines and mandatory probation. The exact penalties will depend on the class of the misdemeanor or felony, the circumstances of the incident, the severity of the victim’s injuries, the age of the victim, and the defendant’s prior criminal history.

When Do You Need an Attorney?

You should hire an attorney to protect your rights if you are being accused of any type of assault in Arizona. Whether you are facing charges for simple or aggravated assault, it could change your life and significantly affect your future. However, if you have been arrested for aggravated felony assault, it is even more important to hire an experienced Phoenix criminal defense lawyer for assistance. An assault lawyer can take immediate action to protect your rights and weaken the prosecutor’s case against you. A defense attorney will protect your rights and future as much as possible.