February has been a banner month of sorts for aggravated assault. It seems as if every other news story is mentioning the offense in one context or another. We’ve gathered together several cases that have emerged (or have been revived) over recent weeks to examine what happened to cause the cases to be charged as aggravated assault, a felony, as opposed to simple assault, a misdemeanor. As you will see, the nature or extent of the injury is not the only factor involved:

  • San Diego Padres pitcher Jose Torres was arrested at his Phoenix home this month after the police were called about an alleged domestic violence dispute between Torres and his wife. The story says that Torres supposedly kicked open a laundry door, which led to his wife’s leg being cut, but it also says that he pointed a gun at her.
  • Two taxis collided last week, and the driver of one of the vehicles was injured in the crash. (He eventually died as the result of those injuries.) The other driver was charged with aggravated assault, the police alleging that he was impaired at the time of the collision.
  • The ASU professor whose arrest was caught on video back in 2014 and caused an outrage throughout the country was eventually charged with aggravated assault, although she was not convicted of that offense. The case is back in the news because the professor is alleging an ongoing pattern of abuse by the officer. In any event, the aggravated assault charge against the professor was based on an allegation that she kicked the officer. There was no resulting injury.

These are just three situations in which what might otherwise be a simple assault – or a case where no charges are filed – becomes a felony aggravated assault case.

An aggravated assault charge is an assault accompanied by one of several potential elements. In the case against Jose Torres, it was A.R.S. 13-1204(A)2, which says that an assault with a dangerous instrument or with a deadly weapon (in this case a gun) constitutes aggravated assault. In the taxi case, while Arizona does not have a separate vehicular assault law, causing serious bodily injury to another person either through reckless or impaired driving can be charged as aggravated assault. And in the case of the ASU professor, the aggravated assault charge was based upon a simple assault on a person you know is a peace officer.

As these examples and an examination of the law demonstrates, the offense of aggravated assault in Arizona can be based upon a variety of circumstances that may or may not involve a serious injury.

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