According to Phoenix police, a woman has admitted that she intentionally rammed her car into a vehicle she says cut her off. The report did not indicate that anyone was injured in the collision. Nevertheless, the woman has been charged with aggravated assault, a felony.

You may wonder, given the fact that there were no injuries to anyone as a result of the car crash, how this could translate into an aggravated assault charge. The answer is that there are numerous ways to commit aggravated assault, some of which do not require an injury to a victim.

What is Aggravated Assault in Arizona?

The starting point for an understanding of what makes up an aggravated assault charge is the definition of simple assault, a misdemeanor. Under A.R.S. 13-1203, it consists of (a) knowingly, intentionally, or recklessly causing a physical injury to someone, (b) knowingly touching a person intending to harm, provoke or insult that person, or (c) intentionally placing a person in reasonable apprehension of imminent physical harm. And in the road rage case, the alleged admission by the woman is certainly evidence (although not proof beyond a reasonable doubt) that an assault took place.

Aggravated assault consists of an assault, plus one of several additional factors. For example, an assault that causes serious physical injury is aggravated assault. So is an assault with a deadly weapon, that is, something, like a gun, which is designed for lethal use, or a “dangerous instrument.” Other examples include an assault on a person, knowing that person is a peace officer, firefighter, prosecutor, engaged in his or her official duties; an assault which involves impeding the normal breathing of another person; or an assault committed in violation of an order of protection issued in connection with a family violence situation.

Ramming the car of the other person in this case was charged as aggravated assault because the car is being considered a dangerous instrument, which is defined as anything that, under the circumstances in which is being used, has the capacity to cause death or a serious injury. The lesson here is that depending upon the circumstances, including the way it is used, anything can be a dangerous instrument, and support a felony aggravated assault charge.

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


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