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Possible Defenses For An Aggravated Assault Charge

Posted on November 9, 2023 in

Facing aggravated assault charges? Discover defenses to potentially save your freedom!

When facing an aggravated assault charge, it’s essential to understand the potential defenses that can be used to fight the allegations. In this article, we’ll discuss possible defenses to an aggravated assault charge, and how the experienced team at Snader Law Group can help you build a strong case.

Common Defenses for Assault and Aggravated Assault Charges

Self Defense

Self-defense under A.R.S. 13-404 is frequently used defense in assault cases, where it requires individuals to show:

  • A threat of unlawful force or harm against them
  • A real, honest perceived fear of harm (with reasonable grounds)
  • No harm or provocation on their part
  • No reasonable chance of retreating or escaping the situation

The force used in self-defense must be reasonably compared to the threat posed by the victim.

Defense of Others

Similar to self-defense, this defense requires an honest and real perceived fear of harm to another person. The same limitations as self-defense apply, including the need for reasonable grounds for their perceived fear.

Defense of Property

Defendants may claim they acted solely in defense of their property against invasion or illegal withholding. This defense generally allows individuals to use reasonable force, particularly when their home is involved.


If an individual voluntarily consents to a specific act, consent may serve as a defense to an assault charge. This is common in contact sports like wrestling or football.


Duress applies when an individual is forced to engage in conduct (that is normally criminal) due to threats or immediate use of physical force that could result in serious physical injury.


Necessity can be used when an individual is forced to engage in conduct typically considered criminal, but no alternative was available to avoid greater public or private injury.

Lack of Mental State

If an individual can prove they did not have the required mental state (knowingly, recklessly, or intentionally) when committing the alleged offense, they may be able to avoid criminal prosecution.

What is Aggravated Assault in Arizona?

Aggravated assault falls under ARS §13-1204 in Arizona and essentially extends on the definition of assault (ARS §13-1203). This offense is considered more serious due to certain aggravating circumstances and hence, brings more severe penalties. The intention behind these stiffer penalties is largely prevention-focused. Even for first-time offenses, prison sentences are a definite outcome.

When Does an Assault Become an Aggravated Assault?

An assault can escalate to an aggravated assault under several conditions. These include:

  • Resulting in serious physical injury: The assault leads to severe harm or injury to the victim.
  • Involving a weapon: A weapon, such as a gun or knife, is used during the assault.
  • Causing a fracture or temporary loss of use of a bodily organ or function: The assault results in broken bones or impacts the functioning of any body part temporarily.
  • Victim’s age: The victim is under 15 years old, and the aggressor is over 18 years old.

Aggravated assault may also occur if a simple assault is committed against individuals belonging to certain protected classes, such as:

  • Police officers
  • Firefighters
  • Teachers
  • Correctional officers
  • Healthcare providers
  • Code enforcement officers
  • Park rangers
  • Prosecutors
  • Court-appointed attorneys

Some common examples of aggravated assaults include those resulting in serious injury, fractures, or involving a weapon – even a car. For instance, if a person causes an injury to someone else during an impaired car accident, the charge is typically aggravated assault instead of DUI. In this case, the vehicle is considered the weapon or dangerous instrument used in the assault.

Aggravated Assault With a Deadly Weapon in Arizona

Assault with a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument is considered an aggravated assault in Arizona. A deadly weapon is any object designed for lethal use, such as a firearm. A firearm must not be permanently inoperable for it to be classified as a deadly weapon.

A dangerous instrument is any object used, attempted to be used, or threatened to be used in a manner capable of causing death or serious injury. If an object is not inherently dangerous, it is up to the judge or jury to determine whether the defendant used it in a dangerous manner. The law considers an object a dangerous instrument only if it causes greater or different injuries than what might have been inflicted by an unaided human body part, or if it has been wielded as a weapon.

Domestic Violence and Aggravated Assault

In the realm of aggravated domestic violence, assaults particularly relate to acts of strangulation and suffocation. These incidents escalate to the level of aggravated assault when the perpetrator:

  • Intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly inflicts physical harm
  • Deliberately puts the victim in real fear of imminent physical harm
  • Intentionally touches the victim with the intention to cause harm

What Are The Penalties for Aggravated Assault in Arizona?

Aggravated assault, depending on the severity and nature of the crime, can be categorized anywhere between a Class 6 felony (the least severe) and a Class 2 felony (the most severe). The following outlines the prison sentences for first-time aggravated assault convictions:

  • Class 6 Aggravated Assault: An offender can face imprisonment ranging from 1.5 to 3 years; with a standard or ‘presumptive’ sentence duration of roughly 27 months.
  • Class 5 Aggravated Assault: For this level of aggression, a person may serve a term between 2 to 4 years, with the presumptive imprisonment term of 3 years.
  • Class 4 Aggravated Assault: In this case, imprisonment can extend from 4 to 8 years, with a standard sentence of 6 years.
  • Class 3 Aggravated Assault: An individual found guilty could face up to 15 years in prison with a presumptive term of 7.5 years.
  • Class 2 Aggravated Assault: The most serious assault charges could warrant a prison term between 7 to 21 years, with a standard sentence of around 10.5 years.
  • Alongside these imprisonment terms, additional penalties for aggravated felony assault convictions may include fines up to $150,000, victim compensation, added fees, and evaluations, procurement of a felony criminal record, alongside other penalties considered appropriate by the court.

However, it’s crucial to note that charges for aggravated assault do not equate to an automatic conviction. The burden of proof lies on the prosecutor who must demonstrate that the defendant fulfilled each requisite aspect of the crime, beyond a reasonable doubt. Should there exist any uncertainties or skepticism from the judge or jury, the charges might be lessened or dismissed entirely.

Seek legal representation from our criminal defense attorney in Arizona is important to help you navigate the complicated court proceedings and build the most effective defense strategy.

Why Do I Need An Experienced Assault Lawyer in Arizona?

When accused of assault in Arizona, it is paramount to have proficient legal assistance to guide you through the complexities of the legal system and ensure your rights are protected. Snader Law Group, spearheaded by Attorney Howard A. Snader, is an exemplary choice for several reasons:

  • Board Certification: Attorney Howard A. Snader has been an Arizona Board Certified Criminal Law Specialist since 1995, demonstrating a high level of competence in this field which uniquely positions him to provide quality legal representation.
  • Insider Knowledge: As a former Maricopa County prosecutor, Howard is versed in the inner workings of the system and can effectively leverage this background to your advantage.
  • Exceptional Recognition: Howard is esteemed in the community for his proficiency in the field and is awarded the highest possible rating of 10 (superb) by AVVO, a testament to his top-tier legal capabilities.
  • Thorough Investigation: Howard is committed to conducting an exhaustive examination of the incident and the actions of law enforcement officers leading up to, during, and after your arrest. He will meticulously identify if there was any violation of your rights to help build a robust defense.
  • Strategic Approach: Beyond knowledge and experience, Howard’s strength lies in his ability to devise tailored defense strategies based on comprehensive witness interviews and detailed information gathering. His adeptness in crafting such strategies contributes notably to the successful resolution of cases.
  • Impressive Results: Howard is often able to prevent charges from being filed. His excellent track record displays a history of cases where charges were dismissed or reduced, and he has secured acquittals at trial, showcasing his commitment to advocate on your behalf.

Choosing Attorney Howard A. Snader and the Snader Law Group means entrusting your case to highly experienced legal counsel that is relentlessly devoted to minimizing legal repercussions and working towards the most favorable outcome possible for you.

Don’t Face Aggravated Assault Charges Alone – Let Snader Law Group Help

If you’re facing an aggravated assault charge, Snader Law Group can help. Our legal team will carefully review your case and develop the best possible defense strategy tailored to your specific situation.

Our law firm can also provide legal guidance in the following areas:

Let us fight for your rights and protect your future. Contact Snader Law Group today!