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Assault vs. Aggravated Assault – What’s the Difference?

Apr 25, 2022 | Assault

When people think about the crime of assault, many different things may come to mind. It could be simple: an argument that results in a shoving match, a fist fight, or perhaps just putting another person in fear of physical injury. In more serious cases, there could be weapons involved, physical injuries inflicted, or assaults against certain classes of people, such as peace officers. Depending upon the circumstances in your case, the offense could be relatively minor, what is commonly referred to as “simple assault.” In others, you could be charged with aggravated assault. These are similar crimes, but the classification, and the potential penalty if you are found guilty, are markedly different.

What is “Simple Assault” in Arizona?

“Simple assault” is something of a misnomer. In Arizona, the offense is just called assault. And it can take different forms, including intentionally or recklessly:

  • Causing physical injury to another person.
  • Placing another person in fear of physical injury.
  • Touching another person with the intent to provoke, injure or insult that person.

And these acts, without more, are loosely referred to as simple assault. They are all misdemeanors, and could be a Class 1, Class 2 or Class 3 misdemeanor depending upon the specific acts alleged. This is a far cry from aggravated assault, a much more serious charge.

Aggravated Assault

Aggravated assault begins with a simple assault, but the presence of an additional factor or factors can turn the charge into a much more serious offense. These additional factors include, among others, an assault which:

  • Causes serious personal injury.
  • Involves the use of a deadly weapon (or a dangerous instrument).
  • Causes disfigurement.
  • Is committed after entering a residence with intent to commit the assault.
  • Is committed by an adult on a minor under the age of 15.
  • Is committed against a person you have reason to know is a police officer, firefighter or EMT (and similar professionals) while engaged in the performance of their official duties.

The list goes on, but the point we’re stressing is that all these acts are classified as felonies, the specifics of which depend upon the facts of each case. The potential penalty is obviously greater than for a charge of simple assault.

Law Offices of David A. Black
40 North Central Avenue #1850
Phoenix, AZ 85004
(480) 280-8028