What Is The Difference Between Simple and Aggravated Assault?

Assault ChargesThe term “assault” is used in two ways. In a general sense, we use the word to mean any action designed to harm someone else. We often qualify the word with a description, such as “verbal assault,” “sexual assault,” or “domestic assault.”However, the legal definition of assault is much more specific, and when someone is accused of this crime it is important to know exactly what the charge is and the circumstances surrounding the incident in order to prepare a legal defense.

Various Types of Assault

Arizona law distinguishes various types of assault by the severity of the crime. There are two essential classifications of assault: misdemeanor assaults, of which there are three levels, and aggravated assault which is a felony.

Misdemeanor assaults include Class 1, Class 2 and Class 3 assaults. Arizona Revised Statutes Annotated Section 13-1203 explains that a Class 1 misdemeanor assault occurs when someone causes physical injury to another person knowingly or intentionally. “Physical injury” is defined as impairment of the victim’s physical condition. The impairment does not have to be serious; it is up to a judge or jury to determine if the victim sustained harm from the attack.

A Class 2 misdemeanor assault occurs when someone recklessly causes physical injury or intentionally place another person in harm’s way or in a situation in which a reasonable person would be fearful of harm.

A Class 3 misdemeanor assault occurs when someone makes physical contact with another person with the intent to injury, insult or provoke that person.

Aggravated assault is a felony in Arizona. Arizona law provides several instances in which prosecutors can charge someone with this serious crime, but most commonly it is used when the accused person has caused serious physical injury through one of the three types of misdemeanor assaults or has used a deadly weapon or a dangerous instrument to commit assault. In other words, a large man telling a smaller man, “I’m going to punch you,” might be charged as a Class 3 misdemeanor assault. However, if that same man take a baseball bat and swings at the victim, he could be charged with aggravated assault, particularly if he actually causes physical harm.

Alex Lane has been helping those accused of assault of all types in Arizona for many years. Alex Lane can help you handle an assault case in the way best designed to minimize the penalties and consequences of a conviction. Contact Alex Lane in Phoenix today for more information.

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